The case of

Barbara Daly Baekeland

Victim

Barbara Daly Baekeland

Victim Race

Caucasian

Victim Date of Birth

1946-08-28

Victim Age
Date Reported
Date of Death
Case Status
Incident Location

Body Location
Date of Conviction

1972-11-17

Body Discovered Date
Murderer

Antony Baekeland

Who are Barbara Daly Baekeland and Antony Baekeland?

Barbara Daly was born 28th September 1921 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to parents Nina Daly and Frank Daly, an ordinary American family. At the age of 11 her father Frank committed suicide via carbon monoxide poisoning, with Barbara being the person that found his body. After receiving Frank’s life insurance payout, Barbara and her mother moved to New York City, living in the Delmonico Hotel.

As a young woman, Barbara becomes a rather prominent socialite, she was named as one of New York’s 10 most beautiful girls. This meant that she gained regular modelling jobs with the likes of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. The beautiful socialite was also invited to Hollywood for a screen test with the actress Dana Andrews, and while that didn’t amount to much she gained a friendship with an aspiring actress called Cornelia Baekeland. Cornelia introduced Barbara to her younger brother Brooks Baekeland, a trainee pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the grandson of Leo Baekeland who invented Bakelite plastic.

After a tumultuous relationship, Barbara falsely told Brooks that she was pregnant at which point, they very hastily got married. With Barbara only revealing the pregnancy was false after the wedding. She lived a privileged life linked to one of the America’s wealthiest and most powerful dynasties. The couple set up home in New York on the Upper East Side, here they held extravagant dinner parties for friends among whom were Greta Garbo, William Styron and Tennessee Williams. Around this time Barbara became known for her unstable personality, rude outbursts and for having bouts of severe depression. She was an alcoholic, Brooks had many extra marital affairs

On August 28th 1946, Barbara gave birth to a son Antony Baekeland, who they often called Tony. He grew up moving around from place to place, with the family having many residences across Europe, and from 1960 the family based themselves in Paris. It was in Paris that Brooks would meet the daughter of an English diplomat, a girl 15 years his junior and requested a divorce. Although, after Barbara subsequently attempted to commit suicide, he promptly stopped this affair.

There is not a lot of information about Antony Baekeland’s childhood and relationship with his parents; it is apparent that there were nannies around all the time. Barbara did not really want to be a mother so she gave him whatever he wanted in order to placate him. Although, during his young adolescence, Antony Baekeland displayed signs of schizophrenia with paranoid tendencies. His increasingly erratic behaviour was enough to cause concern among family friends. He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia, but his father refused him psychiatric treatment as he believed the profession to be amoral.

Leading up to The Murder

At the age of 20 in 1967, Antony Baekeland goes to live in Italy where he meets an Australian bisexual man by the name of Jake Cooper. The pair would become close, and Cooper introduced Tony to a plethora of hallucinogenic drugs. The pair allegedly became romantically involved, and when Barbara heard about this, she drove down to Spain to bring Antony Baekeland back to Switzerland.

She believed that Tony simply needed to find the right girl, and if he did he would no longer be gay. So she encouraged him to have a relationship with a young Spanish girl named Sylvie and soon moved her into the family home. Although, this didn’t go to plan and instead of developing a relationship with Antony Baekeland, she became involved with Brooks. This ultimately led to their divorce in 1968.

Murder

Barbara became determined to “fix” her son, Antony Baekeland, she would hire prostitutes and force him to have sex with them, but that didn’t seem to work. So she allegedly decided to have sex with him herself. After having a few affairs herself she thought that would make him straight. It is unclear whether an incestuous relationship actually occurred, the incest between mother and son is what is rumoured to have taken place.

In late July 1972, Tony threw his mother into oncoming traffic outside of their Cadogan Square home in Chelsea. Barbara refused to press charges for attempted murder, but he was admitted to the Priory private psychiatric hospital for psychiatric treatment. He was released soon after.

On November 17, 1972  a 25 year old Antony Baekeland grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed 51 year old Barbara Baekeland. He didn’t stab her many times as his initial stab killed her almost instantly. The attack ended a toxic and combative mother son relationship.

Conviction

Police arrive at the scene to find Barbara dead and Tony still in the house. Reportedly Tony was on the phone ordering Chinese takeaway when the police had arrived, and seemed completely unconcerned. He very quickly confessed to his mother’s murder and was charged with her murder. At this time, Tony also tells police that Barbara was abusing him and he simply couldn’t take it any more so he killed her. He explained that he was gay and he had a mental illness that had been left untreated because his parents had been preventing him from receiving that help.

He was convicted of the murder, but instead of facing prison time he was institutionalised at Broadmoor Hospital until July 21st 1980. His friends had urged for his release and the doctor had decided he was doing well so he ended up somehow being released. Although his doctor would later admit that was a mistake, and seemed somewhat aware that without proper supervision and psychiatric care, Tony’s release would end in tragedy.

After Release

At the age of 33 Tony Baekeland, upon his release for Broadmoor, flew straight to New York City to stay with his maternal grandmother, 87 year old Nina Daly. Nina loved her grandson and believed she could help him to lead a happy life. With his behaviour being inadequately dealt with by his grandmother and family psychiatrist, it was only 6 days after his release, on July 27th, that he would attack his grandmother with a kitchen knife.

He ultimately stabbed her 8 times, breaking several bones in the process, although Nina Daly did survive. It would appear that Tony’s grandmother didn’t believe him when he told her that Barbara was abusing him sexually, and she didn’t approve of him being gay, which led to him reacting violently.

He was then arrested by the New York City Police Department, charged with attempted murder and sent to Rikers Island Prison.

After being in prison for 8 months, he held the expectation that he would be released on bail at a court hearing, due to take place on March 20th 1981. However, there was a delay in the transfer of his medical records from the UK which led to the judge adjourning the case.

This made Tony Baekeland very depressed and after returning to his cell at 3:30 pm, he was found dead just 30 minutes later. He had suffocated himself with a plastic bag around his head.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Anthony Baekeland still alive?

Antony Baekeland died on March 20th 1981 in his prison cell at Rikers Island Prison.

Is Barbara Daly dead?

Yes Barbara Daly otherwise known as Barbara Daly Baekeland was murdered by her 25 year old son Tony.

What happened to Barbara Baekeland?

Barbara was murdered by her 25 year old son Tony after alleged sexual abuse towards him in an effort to cure him of being homosexual.

Who is Savage Grace based on?

This film is based on Barbara Baekeland, her husband Brooks Baekeland and their son Antony Baekeland.

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