Juan Ignacio Blanco  


  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Murderpedia has thousands of hours of work behind it. To keep creating new content, we kindly appreciate any donation you can give to help the Murderpedia project stay alive. We have many
plans and enthusiasm to keep expanding and making Murderpedia a better site, but we really
need your help for this. Thank you very much in advance.




Paula Marie SIMS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - She claimed a masked gunman had kidnapped her daughter
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: June 17, 1986 / April 29, 1989
Date of birth: May 21, 1959
Victims profile: Her daughter Loralei, 13-day-old / Her daughter Heather, six-week-old
Method of murder: Suffocation caused most likely by placing a hand across her mouth
Location: Jersey/Madison Counties, Illinois, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison on February 2, 1990

photo gallery


Loralei and Heather Sims... killed by their mother

Illinois -- Robert and Paula Marie Sims gave birth to three children, but only one survived. A son born in early 1988 thrived, while their two infant daughters tragically disappeared.

In June1986, while Paula watched television a masked gunman entered her home, made her lie on the floor, and fled with her 13-day-old daughter Loralei Marie. Her remains were found by authorities in a wooded ravine behind their rural Brighton, Jersey County home.

The pathologist reported hand(s) placed over Loralei's nose and mouth suffocated her. The investigation placed suspicion on the parents but there was insufficient evidence to charge them.

The Sims moved from Jersey County to Madison County. The inquiry into Loralei's death became a cold crime.

Alton, Madison County -- April 29, 1989, Paula reported while taking out the garbage, a masked gunman ordered her into the house, before knocked her unconscious. When she awoke her 6-week-old daughter, Heather Lee, was gone. Initially the incident was treated as a kidnapping but Paula had no injuries, and the crime scene did not validate her report.

To obfuscate the time of death Paula kept Heather in the freezer, before dumping her in the garbage. Several days after the abduction was reported Heather's remains were found in a park trash receptacle. The garbage bag holding Heather's body was manufactured within seconds of and by the same machine as the bags found in the Sims' home.

The State removed their son, Randall, from the home.

Robert and Paula were suspects but the State wanted more evidence about their involvement.

Defense attorney Donald Groshong represented both of them.

A grand jury indicted Paula on first-degree murder, obstructing justice, and concealing a homicide.

The State intended to seek capital punishment.

Groshong discussed an insanity plea with Paula, but it contradicted her claim of innocence. Paula had no history of depression. Without documentation of postpartum-depression, innocence was a better defense. She insisted she was telling the truth during her trial and Groshong claims he believed her.

Paula maintained her innocence to the courts as she recounted the abductions of Loralei and Heather at her trial.

On February 2, 1990, after deliberating for two days, jurors found Paula guilty of two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of obstructing justice, and one count of concealing homicide.

Before sentencing, Paula confided in Groshong that she killed both infants.

During the sentencing phase a jury deadlock, and the trial judge spared Paula's life by sentencing her to life imprisonment without parole.

Madison County prosecutor, Donald Weber, said jurors were influenced by the evidence that the couple only wanted male children.

Eventually Paula admitted, without Robert's help, she killed the babies by holding Loralei under water and throwing Heather in the park trash barrel four days before her body was found.

A pathologist claimed Loralei's death was caused by suffocation, not drowning, and Heather's condition was not consistent with Paula's report about the length of time she was in the trash.

The couple eventually divorced.

On August 28, 1994, Paula filed a pro se post-conviction petition alleging Groshong provided ineffective assistance of counsel by dismissing the use of the insanity defense. Paula claimed Groshong was only dedicated to her ex-husband's defense.

She said she suffered from major depression and guilt because her husband did not want Heather and blamed her for having the child. After she announced the murders were the result of postpartum psychosis, she accused Groshong of ignoring the postpartum psychosis insanity defense and requested a new trial to determine if postpartum disorders diminished her capacity to understand the criminality of her conduct.

An expert on postpartum disorders, Dr. Diane Sanford,claims Paula suffered from a postpartum-based mental illness when she killed Heather.

Paula admitted her guilt and continued to take responsibility for acting alone. But Paula believed contributing marital pressures mitigated her guilt. And that Groshong's loyalty to her husband kept him from persuading the judge for lenience. Groshong explained if he had arugued that Robert's behavior drove Paula to infanticide, it would contradict her own claims of innocence.

It was ruled that Groshong's representation did not constitute a conflict.

Robert was not prosecuted.

September 7, 1994, the trial court dismissed her pro se petition.

USA Network produced "Precious Victims," a 1993 made-for-television drama on the case . Park Overall and Robby Benson star as The Sims. The Sims appeared to be the victims, when their infant is abducted and found dead, but when another child in the family is found dead several years later, a sheriff (Frederick Forrest) becomes suspicious.


Paula Sims Talks About What Led Her To Kill Her Two Daughters

By Kay Quinn -

November 7, 2006

The case of Andrea Yates shocked the country when the Texas woman was arrested for drowning her five children in a bathtub in 2001.

Seventeen years ago, it was the case of another mother who admitted to killing her infant daughters that shocked the St. Louis area and the nation. Paula Sims of Alton, Ill., confessed to murdering 13-day-old Loralei in 1986 and six-week-old Heather in 1989.

Sims is talking on camera for the first time about what happened to her daughters and what led her to kill them.

The story of Paula Sims was so unusual because she claimed a masked gunman had kidnapped her daughter Loralei from her home near Brighton, Ill., in June of 1986. Three years later, she told the same story again when her daughter Heather disappeared.

The public first heard the name Paula Sims in the summer of 1986. On the night of June 17, Jersey County Sheriff's deputies were called to the home she shared with her husband Robert for a report of a child abduction.

Paula Sims told police her husband was at work when a masked gunman came into her basement, told her to lie on the floor, took Loralei and fled. "He was going to kill me. I was just in such shock I didn't know he was going to take my baby from me. I didn't know what... when he said he was going to kill me, I just did what he said,” said Paula in the hours following the alleged abduction.

Police launched a massive search. Reporters broadcast descriptions of Loralei and the abductor. Sims and her husband volunteered to take lie detector tests. "It was it was a normal type of dealing with a crime of this fashion, and we passed it with flying colors that would absolutely clear any doubts in their minds of our character,” said Robert Sims following the tests in 1986.

But Jersey County authorities had different results. "According to the polygraph examiner, all of those questions were answered by them not truthfully," said Jersey County Sheriff Frank Yocum.

Ten days later, the skeletal remains of an infant were found about 150 feet behind the Sims’ home. Medical experts said they were 97 percent sure it was Loralei. The cause of death was never determined. No one was ever charged.

Three years later, on April 29, 1989, police were called to the Sims’ home in Alton. It had happened again. Paula said while her husband was at work, a masked gunman knocked her unconscious as she was taking out the trash and took her six week old daughter Heather. The Sims’ 15-month-old son was unharmed.

Four days later, Heather's body was found in a trash can in a parking lot near the Mississippi River in West Alton. "The cause of death was listed as asphyxiation. The focus of the investigation is now leaning towards the parents," said Alton Police Sergeant Rick McCain.

Crowds gathered in front of the Sims’ home. Paula and Robert stayed away. Police broke into their Alton house to carry out search warrants. Then came allegations the Sims didn't want girls. Paula's hospital roommate said the Sims were disappointed when Loralei was born.

Heather was buried and Paula Sims was charged in connection with the death of her first daughter Loralei. Two months later, she was indicted for the murder of Heather.

Sims confessed to killing both babies in 1990, after a jury found her guilty in Heather's murder.

Sims has been an inmate at the Dwight Correctional Center in northern Illinois for 16 years. For the first time ever, she agreed to talk not only about her daughters but what led her to kill them.

Sims filed a petition for clemency in late July. Her petition was presented to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board in mid-October and is now on its way to the desk of Governor Rod Blagojevich.

She agreed to the interview on several conditions: that she not be asked about her ex-husband and her son, that the questions center around the topic of postpartum depression and that she would not have to talk about what happened the night her infant daughters died.

Paula Sims said it was postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis that led her to murder her daughters. "I just want to bring awareness (and) let people know this is real and I'm not some monster. I can't change that, if someone thinks I'm a monster. I know I'm not. I know I'm a good person and I know I'm being punished for being mentally ill,” said Sims.

"The guilt, I'm tormented still to this day by what I did," said Sims. "I loved my daughters, I love all of my children and I know I've been forgiven by God and I'm still trying to forgive myself."

It's been almost 17 years since she confessed to killing her infant daughters in her own home. She confessed to killing 13-day-old Loralei on June 17, 1986. She said she killed six week old Heather on April 29, 1989.

"I love Loralei very much and I still do," said Sims. "I miss her and I think about her every day. I think about Heather. “I miss my children. I had wonderful dreams and if they were alive today, Loralei would be 20 and Heather would be 17 and they would be pursuing their dreams. “I'm so sorry for everything that's happened, all of the pain I've caused everybody. My daughters are the true victims here."

A few weeks after Heather's death, Sims was charged with murdering Heather and implicated in Loralei's death. In February of 1990, she was found guilty at trial and confessed to the murders.

In prison, Paula Sims says she heard about postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. After talking with a mental health profession, she now believes the diseases drove her to kill. "I'm not trying to make no excuses here," said Sims.

"A lot of women have been through worse than what I've been through and they don't do something like this. So I'm a weak woman, what can I say."

Sims says she started hearing voices right after Loralei was born on June 5, 1986. Loralei was killed 13 days later. Sims said she did not want to talk about that day.

But while Sims doesn't want to talk about how she killed her daughters, she does go into detail about how she says she was feeling at the time of Loralei's birth.

"I was afraid to say anything to anyone. I was ashamed when I started having bad thoughts and I was confused. It was difficult for me because I was such a private person to tell someone that I was having a bad thought about harming my baby,” said Sims.

Sims said the symptoms were similar but more intense after Heather was born. "I was so weak," said Sims. "I hadn't ate in probably two weeks. Not only had it got me emotionally it had got me physically and I kept fighting and fighting the voices.

“I talked to the voices just like I talk to you right now. I paced around the house, drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana, smoking a cigarette and telling them to leave me alone. I wasn't going to do it. I didn't want to do it, just leave me alone.

“I loved her I didn't want to hurt her and the voices would then leave me alone because they didn't have me where they wanted me at. They'd back off because I wasn't going to do it, I wasn't going to do it again. I never wanted to do it the first time, so the voices backed off."

She says she tried to tell those closest to her, but for various reasons wasn't able to. "I didn't tell them the thoughts I was having with Heather because the voices told me then what about Loralei? You're getting ready to expose yourself. I had that dark secret that I planned on taking to my grave. I planned on taking what I did to Heather to my grave."

Sims also said she can't explain how she was hearing and seeing things that weren't there, yet was able to conceal the bodies of her daughters, and the fact that she was responsible for their deaths.

"I really don't want to get into that. I don't have the words for it. I am really not an elegant speaker and when I get emotional, I just can't put it into words... not for it to flow good. I'm just not good at things like this."

Sims said she heard the term postpartum depression for the first time during her trial, and learned more about the illness while in prison. But she denies using it as a last-ditch effort for clemency. And she said she's not copying the case of Andrea Yates, the Texas mother found not guilty by reason of insanity in the murders of her children.

"I confessed in 1990 when all was said and done, you know, even though I didn't know what was wrong with me. I said I did it, I was crazy that's the only way I could describe it,” said Sims.

Sims and her attorney have petitioned Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich for clemency, asking that she be released because she was mentally ill when she murdered her daughters. That petition should arrive on the governor's desk in the next 60 days.

Sims said if she's not granted clemency she'll go on with her life in prison. She said she feels blessed and she also feels compelled to educate other women about postpartum depression and psychosis.

Part Two

Paula Sims told me it wasn't until after she began her life sentence she came to believe postpartum psychosis led her to kill her daughters.

In an interview at the Dwight Correctional Center in Illinois, Sims talked about the story she told not once, but twice.

In June 1986, she claimed a masked kidnapper took her daughter Loralei. The baby's body was found in woods behind her home days later. Then in April 1989, Sims told the same story after the disappearance of six-week-old Heather.

Both times, she says she heard voices telling her to kill. Sims said she didn’t talk about the voices on the witness stand because she was in serious denial still believing hallucinations of a masked gunman stealing her babies.

“It would come to me that I would see a flash in my mind that I did something, then I'd push it back say, ‘No I didn't, I couldn't have, I loved her I would never hurt her,’” said Sims.

Sims is now asking Ill. Governor Rod Blagojevich to grant her clemency and let her out of prison because she was mentally ill at the time she murdered her daughters.

She said in the weeks and months leading to her trial in 1990, she and her attorney Don Groshong never discussed postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis as a possible defense. "My attorney said all I needed to do was keep my mouth shut, he was going to get me out of this mess," said Sims. "It didn't matter to him whether I was innocent or guilty. So that's what I did and I tried to deal with what was going on inside of me."

Sims said in an appeal, Groshong said the defense team had considered and researched discussing postpartum depression as a motive during the trial.

Sims was asked if the reason Groshong didn’t discuss postpartum is because she insisted she was innocent. "He never asked me. He never had a psychologist or a psychiatrist evaluate me, so I'll never know if I would have been asked that what would have happened. “I believed my hallucinations. I heard voices telling me to do this. I argued with the voices with Loralei, it really happened quick. But with Heather I fought and fought for six weeks and I thought we were going to make it, I just knew we were going to make it. Obviously we didn't."

Sims was then asked what led her to confess to the murders. "I really don't know. I guess I finally had a breakthrough that I did this. It was over, I was convicted. I'd fought a hard fight, and I was able to finally say it out of my mouth. I did this. And at that time, I wanted death. I wanted them to put me to death and I really felt they (were) going to do it the next day.

“The jury said no, so and actually it's really more punishment to be in prison for the rest of your life. Because then that way you're reminded every day, there's not a day that goes by that I'm not reminded about this. I think about my daughters every day."

Sims’ first psychiatric exam was done when she arrived at the prison in Dwight. A psychologist who specializes in women's reproductive mental health says because Sims didn't receive a mental evaluation at the time of the murders, no one will ever know for sure whether she was mentally ill when she killed her daughters.

"I asked for everybody's forgiveness that I could because I know I've done a terrible thing here. I'm not trying to make no excuses you know, just trying to prove a point and trying to save lives. Save another woman from coming up here and being called a baby killer, as if she doesn't have enough to deal with," said Sims.

"My daughters are the true victims here and they're on a long list of victims. This continues to happen to women and I want to speak out, make a difference. Let my voice be heard. It's long overdue and God has given me the strength to do this today.” Said Sims.

Sims’ attorney Jed Stone said she shouldn't continue to be punished for being mentally ill. Don Weber, the Madison County state's attorney who prosecuted Sims, is now a judge in Madison County. He said he doesn't believe Sims was mentally ill. Don Groshong declined to be interviewed for this story.

Sims said she's asking for clemency because she promised her mother, who is now deceased, that she would. "I promised my mother I would do everything I could to try to get some relief. When she was dying, she asked me not to give up, so that's why I filed the clemency. I went through all the legal process; I've got no relief, trying to find some justice trying to find some mercy,” said Sims.

Sims was asked what she believes will happen with her clemency request and if Blagojevich will grant her clemency. "It's up to him. A lot of my supporters believe I should be released. Of course my attorneys, my psychologist, the people who truly love me and who believe in me, and know that I was mentally ill and didn't mean to do this -- didn't want to do this. “So ultimately, it's up to the governor and the prisoner review board and God. I put this in his hands, I've placed it in his hands. He knows what's best. He knows everything. He knows I'm telling the truth."


Not a Natural Thing for a Mother to Do

O thou abomination! thou most detested woman, both by the Gods and by me, and by all the race of man; who hast dared to plunge the sword in thine own children, thou who bore them, and hast destroyed me childless.
~Euripides from Medea

Although the disorder of postpartum psychosis was first identified in the mid-19th century, it probably first came to the attention of the American public when Andrea Yates was charged with murdering her five children. Yates entered a plea of insanity, which was rejected by the jury. However, her conviction was overturned when it was revealed that an expert witness offered false testimony that may have tainted the jury. Yates faces a retrial in June 2006.

Because of hormonal changes that occur after childbirth, mothers frequently experience negative physical and emotional effects after delivery. Most women who suffer these effects only experience what is known colloquially as “the Baby Blues.” In some cases, the mother will suffer from a more serious malady termed “postpartum depression.” Statistics show that the Baby Blues affect 80 percent of women after childbirth. About 20 percent of those women go on to be diagnosed (or suffer without diagnosis) with postpartum depression.

Even more rare is postpartum psychosis, which affects between 1 and 3 percent of women with postpartum depression. As the name implies, postpartum psychosis results in women suffering “a break from reality” and often becoming delusional. Tragically, postpartum psychosis has a 5 percent suicide rate and a 4 percent infanticide rate. Some experts believe that some Sudden Infant Death Syndrome deaths are actually homicides as result of extreme postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.

While Andrea Yates was clearly delusional when she drowned her children, her case demonstrates the difficulty the defense has in presenting an insanity defense where infanticide or child homicide are concerned.

“While the crime itself was morally disturbing, almost as shocking was how a woman, so clearly mentally unstable, could fail to assert the insanity defense,” writes Carrie Quinlan in the Buffalo Women’s Law Journal (2003). “Although experts on both sides of the Yates trial thought it was clear that Andrea was ‘profoundly mentally ill,’ the jury could not find her innocent because she did not meet the strict limitations of the insanity defense.

This background is necessary to understand the bizarre and tragic case of Paula J. Sims of Alton, Illinois. The state’s highest court succinctly summed up Sims’s case in a decision upholding her murder conviction.

“Paula J. Sims gave birth to three children, but she was a mother to only one, wrote Illinois Supreme Court Justice Clyde Kuehn in 2001. “Rather than nurture her two baby girls, she killed them.”

It was not until Sims had been in prison for nearly 10 years that she made the claim that she had been suffering from postpartum psychosis when she killed her two daughters. She appealed her conviction because her attorney never raised the question of her sanity during her trial.

However, her attorney did not attempt an insanity defense because at the time Sims refused to take responsibility for the deaths.

(In a postconviction hearing, the trial attorney) addressed his decision not to employ an insanity defense as follows. He studied (a public defender’s) materials and suggestions, had an associate conduct independent research into the use of postpartum-depression insanity defenses, and discussed the possibility of an insanity plea with Paula before electing to discard it. An insanity plea would have detracted from Paula’s claimed innocence. Moreover, Paula had never complained of depression-like symptoms, and an examination of her medical records proved consistent with this lack of complaint. Given the absence of testimony to support a postpartum-depression defense, the better defense was Paula’s claimed innocence, a claim made stronger by avoiding inconsistency. State of Illinois v. Sims 2001.

The facts of the case, however, made Sims’s claims of innocence very hard to believe. She was charged with the murder of her six-week-old daughter, Heather in April 1989. The facts surrounding the death of Heather, were so similar those in the death of defendant’s infant daughter, Loralei, in June 1986, that the trial judge allowed the State to present the evidence surrounding the death of Loralei in order to show Sims’s modus operandi, intent, knowledge, lack of accident or mistake, and her identity in the death of Heather.

The Death of Loralei — June 1986

On June 17, 1986, police were summoned to the Sims house after a report of a child abduction. Paula Sims was alone in the house watching television in the basement while Loralei slept nearby in a bassinet — her husband Robert was at work.

When police arrived, she told them that at about 10:20 p.m., a masked gunman appeared on the basement stairs of the Sims home. She described the man as wearing a dark ski mask, dark T-shirt and dark pants. Despite the fact that the screen door by which indication showed the “gunman” entered was locked and squeaked loudly when opened and closed, the family dog failed to bark or otherwise alert Sims. A slice in the screen was found by investigators.

When the gunman left and Sims heard the squeak of the door, she jumped up and ran after the him. Once outside, she saw a “shadowy figure” running down the driveway to the south, and she heard what she thought was someone running on gravel. She yelled and chased after him. The neighbors who lived at the end of the Sims’s driveway, did not hear her, even though it was a hot summer evening and their windows were open.

The cops brought three trained tracking dogs who had an exceptional record of success in locating strange scents. The dogs did not pick up any strange scents around the driveway or the road. The next morning the police brought other dogs to search, again without success.

During the June 18 search, police wanted Sims to go to the station to give a statement, but she protested that she did not want to leave the house. According to a lieutenant from the State Police, Paula Sims said: “No, no, I want to be here when they bring her body up.” She then stuttered and said: “That is not what I mean. I mean my baby is alive and I want to be here when they bring her on the porch.”

Loralei’s nude body was found on June 24, 1986, about 100 feet north of the rear of the Sims’s house near the top of a ravine in a heavily wooded area with dense underbrush. It appeared from the evidence that someone had thrown the body of Loralei off the top of the ravine after coming through the Sims’s backyard.

Police reenactments revealed that it was impossible for the kidnapper to have run north to the back of the house, dispose of the body of Loralei, and return south past the house and be 75 feet down the gravel driveway by the time Sims came up from the basement and saw and heard the “shadowy figure.”

“The argument espoused by defendant, that the abductor returned to her home sometime after June 17, while the police were investigating Loralei’s disappearance, and, in 100-degree weather, climbed a steep ravine in a woods thick with underbrush to place the child near the top of the ravine, belied logic and reason,” the Illinois Court of Appeals wrote in 1993.

A decade before Loralei was killed, Sims told a co-worker that she did not want children, “especially not a little girl. It’s too much trouble.” After Loralei was born, Sims’s roommate in the hospital heard her crying and apologizing, while talking on the telephone to her husband, for having a baby girl. Robert Sims admitted that his wife had apologized for having a girl, but Paula denied making such apology.

Despite the inconsistencies in her story and the circumstantial evidence that she was lying — and thus probably responsible for her daughter’s death — the investigation never resulted in charges against either Paula or Robert Sims.

The Death of Heather — April 1989

(Stop me if you’ve heard this story before.)

On April 29, 1989, Paula Sims called police to report that she had been attacked and her daughter, Heather, was kidnapped. Her story to police was that she was at home alone with her 14-month-old son, Randall, and her six-week-old daughter, Heather. Her husband was at work. Heather was in a bassinet downstairs and Randall was asleep upstairs.

At approximately 10:30 p.m. that evening, she was taking the garbage out, and when she reached the bottom of the porch stairs, she saw a person 10 feet away pointing a gun at her. This person ordered her back into the house. As she stepped inside her kitchen door, she was hit on the back of the head, rendering her unconscious. According to Paula and Robert, she did not regain consciousness until he awoke her about 45 minutes later.

Nine months later, when she testified at her trial, she broke the news that the intruder of April 1989 was the same person who had broken into her home in 1986. She knew that the assailant was the same person by his voice. She also stated that he was definitely a white male.

Oddly, the Sims lived in two different locations at the times of the abductions, had an unlisted telephone number on both occasions, and Robert worked swing shifts both times so that it would have been difficult for anyone outside of the plant to know when he was going to be at work.

Again, police brought in tracking dogs, who failed to pick up any unusual scents.

At the hospital, Paula failed to present any symptoms that a person who had been knocked unconscious for 45 minutes would exhibit. There were no bruises or marks on her head and she was more coherent than physicians would have expected.

The day after Heather was kidnapped, Robert and Paula Sims had a sexual encounter that she described as “the best and longest-lasting sex we ever had.”

On the stand during her trial, Robert, who backed his wife’s story, was asked about this.

“Let me tell you something,” Robert Sims replied, “sex can be a stress reliever.”

On May 3, 1989, Heather’s naked body was found in a plastic trash bag in a trash barrel at a riverside park area in Missouri. This park area was a drive of less than six minutes from the Sims home. Witnesses’ testimony at her trial revealed that the trash bag was not in the trash barrel at 10:30 a.m., but that the bag was present in the trash barrel at 1 p.m.

Pathologist Dr. Mary Case testified that she had performed the autopsy on Heather. It was her opinion that Heather had died by suffocation caused most likely by placing a hand across her mouth. The doctor determined that Heather must have been frozen after she died, and that her death must have occurred three or four days earlier, based upon the internal decomposition, the lack of external decomposition, and the bright red colors on the forehead, cheek, and neck, and from the loss of rigor mortis.

Through forensic testing, police traced the trash bag in which Heather’s body was found to a roll of trash bags still in Sims’s home. According to her theory presented at trial, the alleged kidnapper removed only Heather and a trash bag from her home and did not touch or disturb anything else. The supposition is that the intruder then smothered Heather, removed her clothes, put her into the trash bag obtained from defendant’s home, stored her body in a freezer, and dumped her into a barrel in Missouri four days later.

Paula Sims’s parents just happened to be away on a trip when Heather disappeared and according to a relative, their freezer was nearly empty at the time.

Paula Sims was convicted of Heather’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. She later pleaded guilty of concealing the homicidal death of Loralei.

Robert Sims was never charged with any crime in this case, but the prosecutor’s theory — later expanded in a book he co-wrote on the murders — was that the husband’s dark moods and dislike of girls drove his wife to murder their two daughters, while sparing the son born in between.

“I felt and still feel that Robert Sims was very much involved in the killings,” Don W. Weber said.

Did Paula Sims Suffer from Postpartum Psychosis?

After she was incarcerated, Paula began to consult with prison medical officials about postpartum psychosis.

She had never complained of any postpartum emotional problems until she was convicted.

A psychologist testified at Sims’s postconviction hearing that Sims fit the mold of a postpartum baby killer, down to delusions that a stranger committed the crime. The shrink gave two psychological tests to Sims in 1992, asking her to answer as though it were still 1989. “She perceived herself as hearing voices, people getting into her head,” the psychologist told the court.

The judge asked her whether lying is common with women suffering from the malady.

“Very often, because they have disordered thinking, they make up stories about other people coming in and taking the children, harming the children,” the doctor testified.

Edward Loew, a psychologist at the Dwight Correctional Center, where Sims is held, said she told him of hearing voices and claimed to have tried to kill herself with alcohol and pills before her arrest in 1989.

Loew said Sims told him she had felt violence toward Randy too and once nearly attacked the child. “She realized her anger was going to overcome her, but she left the room,” he said.

An emotionless Sims testified for almost 90 minutes about her girls’ deaths.

“I didn’t know what was wrong with me,” she said. “It’s not a natural thing for a mother to do that.”

Gene Petersen, another psychologist at the prison, where Sims is imprisoned, testified that she was suffering “major depression” when she arrived there and might not have realized it.

Three courts, however, found Sims’s arguments unpersuasive.


No Girls Allowed: The Story of Murderous Mom Paula Marie Sims

By Kim Cantrellon -

August 13, 2012

The woman’s voice was shrill and panic. “Let me in! Please, let me in!”

Minnie Gray didn’t recognize the voice and no one was visible as she looked through the peephole of her front door. “Who is it?,” she asked.

“It’s Paula!”

It was Paula Marie Sims, Minnie’s next door neighbor.

They Stole My Baby!

Paula was hyperventilating. Between breathes she told Minnie, “They stole my baby!”

“Who?,” asked Minnie, becoming frantic herself.

Paula began explaining that as she watched the evening news, a masked gunman entered her home and told her to lay on the floor for ten minutes or he would kill her. Paula said she was terrified and did as she was told. She said when the man left she realized he had taken her 13 day-old daughter, Loralei Marie Sims, and she took off after him. Paula told Minnie she chased the man down the driveway, but he disappeared into the darkness.

As Minnie’s husband called the Jersey County Sheriff’s Department to report the abduction, Paula rushed home to find her husband’s telephone number at work. Minnie accompanied Paula back to her home and Paula pointed out where Lorlei was sleeping and the door the abductor used to gain entry.

Minnie felt unsettled by Paula’s story. Things just didn’t feel right. For one, she noticed the baby’s blanket in the bassinet was neatly folded back.

Robert Sims hurried home after his supervisor at the factory where he was working called him to the phone and Paula told him, between quick breathes and uncontrollable crying, that someone had kidnapped their daughter.

By the time he arrived, police were already roaming all over his home. A frantic Paula ran up to her husband and said, “Rob, I’m so sorry I disappointed her.” When her husband tried to reassure her, Paula continued on. “You were disappointed when Loralei was a girl, and I disappointed you because I didn’t stop the man from taking her.”

Realizing that several officers were listening to their conversation, Rob leaned over and whispered something in Paula’s ear.

But the words “you were disappointed when Loralei was a girl” would resound in detectives’ ears for years to come.

Finding Loralei

Police were desperate to find the infant, but her own parents weren’t much help. Rob spoke in a low monotone and Paula was inconsolable. With what little they were able to pull from the hysterical mother, however, they were beginning to feel a lot like Minnie Gray: something just didn’t feel right.

As soon as the sun rose on Wednesday, June 18, 1986, police stepped up their search efforts by bringing in scent dogs, sent planes up for an ariel view search, and divers donned wetsuits to began searching the pond at the rear of the Sims’ home.

While the divers were getting into the suits, however, police noticed Paula and her family standing on the porch and that they continually stared in the pond’s direction. When an officer approached Paula and suggested now would be a good time to go with deputies and give her official statement, Paula said something that made the hair on the back of his neck stand straight up. She said, “No, I want to be here when they bring her body up.” Realizing immediately what she had said, Paula corrected herself, “No, that’s not what I mean. I mean, my baby is alive and I want to be here when they bring her onto the porch.”

Searchers found nothing that day, but they continued to search. And they continued to question Robert and Paula, especially hoping Mom would remember something that could help them find the baby. Eventually, however, the couple grew tired of the police’s accusations and retained an attorney.

On Tuesday, June 24, 1986, a week after Loralei’s disappearance, searchers were still milling about the area surrounding the Sims’ home, looking for their daughter. Rob was standing nearby when one of the detectives pondered aloud whether the wooded area had yet been searched. Rob responded by saying the woods was covered in poison ivy and he didn’t recommend anyone search there for very long lest they have a miserable reaction. The detective found the comments strange and soon thereafter ordered the dogs be taken into the woods to search for Loralei. Just a short distance in, the dog began barking.

Baby Loralei had been found.

Loralei’s Death Becomes A Cold Case

Following an autopsy, the medical examiner proclaimed that Loralei had died of asphyxiation. Based on evidence, he theorized this was the result of a blanket or hands being pressed against Loralei’s mouth and nose.

Now, more than ever, detectives were certain Paula had killed her daughter and they were pretty sure that Robert had been covering for his wife. But the pair had lawyered up and their attorney wasn’t allowing them to say much to police.

There wasn’t enough evidence to make an arrest. The polices’ hands were tied.

Robert and Paula moved from Brighton, Illinois, to a new home in Madison County.

The murder of a Loralei Sims grew cold.

A Private Life

Robert and Paula quietly left Brighton and moved into a new home at 1053 Washington Avenue in Alton, Illinois. Neighbors at their new home were blissfully unaware of the Sims’ history.

Before the birth of their second child, a son they named Randall Troy Sims, in February 1988, Rob built a privacy fence around the property and Paula hung curtains and blinds that always stayed pulled tight. Later neighbors would say they hardly ever saw anyone outside the house, not even the mother and her young son.

The Sims were living a private, or some would say reclusive, life; staying out of the spotlight they’d been just a couple of years before.

Until 1989 when it happened again.

They Took My Other Daughter!

On March 18, 1989, Paula gave birth to a second daughter, Heather Lee Sims. Her life would prove to be only slightly longer than that of her older sister.

Heather was only six weeks old when Rob came home from work on April 29, 1989, and found his wife lying unconscious on the kitchen floor. Flashing back to three years before, Rob ran to his daughters bassinet and discovered it empty. He returned to his wife, trying to arouse her, screaming, “Where is Heather? Paula, where is Heather?” When Paula finally came to, she answered that the baby was in her bassinet. When he told her their daughter was missing, they both ran upstairs to check on their son, whom they found sleeping safe and sound in his bed.

Rob called for help and police soon arrived. The responding officer was unfamiliar with the Sims and was confused when Rob made the statement, “They’ve taken my daughter. They took my other daughter.”

When detectives asked Paula what had occurred, her story was eerily familiar.

It was around 10:30 p.m., she said, when she took the trash out and met up with a masked me who was holding a gun. Paula said he told her to get back in the house and she complied. As they stepped through the threshold, the intruder hit in the back of the head and she didn’t come to until Robert came in and found her.

Although they began organizing a search for the baby, investigators felt certain Paula’s story was nothing but lies. When they had examined Paula for injuries, they found none; not a bump on her head or scrapes to her arm and elbow – things that should have been present if what she said was true. Then there was the odd statement Paula had made to Robert in the presence of several officers, “My son’s all right. That’s all that matters.”

It finally dawned on one of the Alton officers, Sims; the name of the couple who just a few years before had claimed a masked gunman had kidnapped their daughter. After sharing the memory with fellow detectives, they too became certain this was all a ruse to cover up another baby’s murder.

They became determined that Paula Sims wouldn’t get away with murder twice.

Finding Heather

Paula was taken to the Alton police department in hopes of gaining as much information about the “kidnapping” as possible. Meanwhile, other officers continued to search the Sims home looking for evidence as Rob followed them around, watching their every move.

Detectives who questioned Paula were surprised by her demeanor. Unlike the hysterical woman she had been three years ago, this woman was very calm and laid back. She casually smoked while answering the investigators’ questions with simple, unhelpful answers.

Although Robert had said he intended to call his attorney before Paula went with the officers, she, as yet, had not requested such but cops knew it wouldn’t be long before she did.

Outside the police precinct, the news of the disappearance of Heather Sims was big news and especially so when reporters linked the Sims to Loralie. While some prayed for the return of an abducted infant while others began keeping an eye out for the body of baby girl, certain the Sims had murdered a second child.

The latter group wasn’t wrong, unfortunately.

On Wednesday, May 9, 1989, a fisherman had noticed a lone trash bag in a recreational bin and something called him to check it out.

Inside were the remains of Heather Lee.

Paula Sims Guilty!

Just as with Loralie, Heather had died of asphyxiation, most like because of a hand or blanket being pressed firmly against her nose and mouth.

Fearing for the safety of the Sims’ only surviving child, little Randy was removed from his parents’ home, which seemed to have a greater impact on the couple than the death of their daughters.

A little forensic work proved that the trash bag in which Heather had been found had been made from the same roll of those currently being used by the Sims.

Confronted with the evidence (and the obvious), Robert finally broke down and admitted that he believed Paula had killed their daughters. He had wanted to believe she capable of murder, but maybe she was.

Trying to elicit a possible motive from Robert, they asked him about life before Heather’s birth. Robert admitted that he and Randy slept in a bedroom separate from Paula and Heather, but after her abduction they had resumed sleeping together. Then, to the shock of the investigator questioning him, Robert said, “On Monday or Tuesday, Paula and I had the best and long-lasting sex we’ve had in a long time.”

They couldn’t gather enough evidence to arrest Robert, but they did have enough for Paula and she was taken into custody on Sunday, July 2, 1989. The state announced soon afterwards that they intended to seek the death penalty in the Paula Sims case.

The trial in People versus Paula Marie Sims began on Monday, January 8, 1990. It came to a close just a few days shy of a month later of February 2, when a jury found Paula guilty two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of obstructing justice, and one count of concealing homicide.

Although jurors believed prosecutors that Paula had killed Loralei and Heather simply because they were girls, a gender that was a disappointment to their father, they deadlocked during the sentencing phase and, as such, the Judge made a compromise, of sorts, and sentenced Paula to life sentences without possibility of parole.

As of this writing, Paula Sims is incarcerated at the Dwight Correctional Facility in Dwight, Illinois.


In August 1990, Robert filed for divorce. As part of their divorce agreement, Rob was required to bring their son Randy to visit her once a month in prison. It was reported that during one of those visits, Randy asked his mother why she had killed his sisters. Paula accused Robert of putting Randy up to asking the question.

A little more than two years after her conviction, Paula admitted to murdering her infant daughters, claiming that she was trying to please Robert who had been upset at the birth of daughters instead of sons.

By August 1994, however, Paula claimed, in a pro se post-conviction relief petition, she had suffered from postpartum psychosis and didn’t understand that her actions, at the time, were wrong. Her petition was denied.

As if to back up her claim, Paula also admitted to almost killing Randy one night. According to her, “He was crying and I had tried everything I knew to comfort him, but nothing was working. Before I knew it I snapped and laid him down in the playpen and yelled at him to be quiet and then I threatened him, he quit crying immediately. His eyes got big and he just stared at me. I quickly picked him up, held him closer to me, and told him I was so sorry; I didn’t mean it. I believe it was this sudden adrenaline rush and Randy’s reaction, along with actually hearing me threaten him which brought me out of postpartum depression, psychosis. Just enough to save Randy from the terrible fate of his sister.”

In 2007, Paula petitioned for clemency. Fortunately, her request was denied.

Randy Sims lives in Illinois and vocally defends his father against accusations that he should have been prosecuted for his role in helping cover-up Heather’s death.



home last updates contact