Megan Huntsman, 39, was ordered held in lieu of $6 million bail on
Monday on suspicion of murdering six newborn babies whose tiny
bodies were found rolled up in shirts, towels and plastic bags and
stashed inside separate cardboard boxes in the garage of her former
Police in the Salt Lake City suburb of Pleasant Grove, Utah, say
Huntsman has admitted under questioning that she strangled or
suffocated the six babies just after they were born in a rare case
of serial infanticide that ran from 1996 to 2006.
The body of a seventh infant born during the same period and
disposed of the same way also was found in the garage, but police
say they believe that child was stillborn.
Police disclosed new findings in the case as medical examiners
continued autopsies on the remains and DNA tests aimed at confirming
such details as the manner and cause of the infants' deaths, their
parentage and their genders.
Following extensive interviews with neighbors and family members,
including Huntsman's three older children — all daughters, now aged
20, 18 and 14 — investigators say the mother somehow managed to keep
nearly a decade of consecutive pregnancies a secret.
"We have not found anybody who has ever suspected that she was
pregnant," Pleasant Grove police Captain Mike Roberts said.
"All seven were born in the home," Roberts said. "We have no proof
of any medical anything during any of the seven pregnancies.
PUZZLE OF SURVIVING CHILD
Adding to the puzzle is the fact that at least one of Huntsman's
surviving daughters, the 14-year-old, was born in the middle of the
period during which the mother is suspected of killing six of her
Huntsman was arrested on Sunday after her estranged husband, Darren
Brad West, found the body of one infant tucked into a cabinet while
cleaning out the garage at the home and called police, authorities
have said. Investigators then discovered the six other remains.
He is believed to be the father of all seven, though neither West
nor the three surviving daughters — also presumed to be his children — are suspects "at this point," Roberts said.
West, 41, who was released from federal prison earlier this year
after serving time for a drug conviction and now resides in a
halfway house in Utah, had been preparing to move back into the
Pleasant Grove house, which is owned by his parents.
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Huntsman left the house in 2011 to move in with her boyfriend in
another Salt Lake City suburb, according to police.
Her three surviving daughters remained in the Pleasant Grove home,
sharing the house with West's sister and her husband, who reside in
a basement apartment there, police said.
Roberts said all of the deceased babies, though their remains were
badly decomposed, appeared to have been carried to full term. He
said autopsies might be completed on Wednesday but declined to say
when results would be released.
Roberts also said he was aware of reports that Huntsman recently
suffered a miscarriage, a development he said was still under
Pleasant Grove neighbors report seeing fluctuations in Huntsman's
weight over the years, but say they never suspected she was
pregnant. Similarly, Roberts said Huntsman's two adult daughters
told police they were unaware of the pregnancies their mother
Police say they do not believe mental illness was a factor in the
killings. Based on interviews with Huntsman, investigators say they
have a motive but have yet to reveal it.
"I've heard speculation that she was in a cult," Roberts said, "but
that's all coming from the neighbors. Unfortunately, we can't
release the motive at this point."
Roberts said he expects formal charges in the case to be filed by
prosecutors by next Monday, when an arraignment has been scheduled
(Reporting by Derek Jensen; editing by Steve Gorman and Lisa
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