On the outskirts of Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen, in the early 20th century, a young woman tempted mothers unable to keep their children with an ideal – if expensive – solution. In exchange for a princely sum, the female offered to find these desperate women’s babies a loving home. Business boomed until years later, when one of the clients had a change of heart – only to find that her baby had disappeared without trace.
Dagmar Johanne Amalie Overbye was born on April 23, 1887, in Assendrup, a village near Denmark’s second city, Aarhus, some 116 miles west of the country’s capital. Born into a poor farming family, Overbye grew up to be a sad and withdrawn child who expressed her unhappiness with acts of petty thievery. After being caught stealing a purse at the tender age of 12, her parents sent her away to work on another family’s farm on the island of Funen, some 50 miles away.
Overbye was worked hard in her new job, and she soon tired of her onerous duties and left to seek employment elsewhere. But even though she successfully secured a number of servant roles, Overbye found it difficult to stay on the “straight and narrow.” Caught thieving once more, she was imprisoned in a women’s penal facility for ten days.