Mum admits to killing 6 of 7 babies found in garage

The bodies of the seven dead babies were found in cardboard boxes in the garage of this house (left) in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Megan Huntsman (below), the babies' mother, has admitted to killing six of them.
The bodies of the seven dead babies were found in cardboard boxes in the garage of this house (left) in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Megan Huntsman (below), the babies' mother, has admitted to killing six of them.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
The bodies of the seven dead babies were found in cardboard boxes in the garage of this house (left) in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Megan Huntsman (below), the babies' mother, has admitted to killing six of them.
The bodies of the seven dead babies were found in cardboard boxes in the garage of this house (left) in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Megan Huntsman (below), the babies' mother, has admitted to killing six of them.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PLEASANT GROVE (Utah) - The infants were found in cardboard boxes, each one rolled up in a shirt or towel and tucked into a plastic bag. One had been stillborn, their mother Megan Huntsman told the police. The other six, she said, she had strangled or smothered immediately after giving birth, and interred them in the garage of her family's home here.

For more than a decade, Huntsman's pregnancies and the short lives of her seven babies apparently went unnoticed by relatives and neighbours.

Then, as her estranged husband and other relatives were cleaning out the garage during the weekend, they found a tiny body in a plastic bag, uncovering a grisly scene that has left veteran police investigators shaken and exposing a story that has stunned families across the city.

Police Chief Michael Smith said: "I don't think there's any motive that could ever be given that allows you to wrap your mind around it in any way."

On Monday, as a Utah district judge set a US$6 million (S$7.5 million ) bail for Huntsman, investigators sought to unravel questions about how a mother of three who baby-sat for neighbours' children could have concealed such a terrible secret for so long.

According to an affidavit, Huntsman, 39, said she had given birth to the seven children at home from 1996 through 2006, and that all but one had been born alive. After waiving her right against self-incrimination, the affidavit said, she admitted to killing six of those children.

But neighbours said that, in addition to her two adult daughters, Huntsman also has a daughter who was born during that period, raising further questions about the timing of the deaths, and why one child lived while seven others died. The police have said DNA tests were being conducted on the dead babies to determine their biological parents. Neighbours who knew the family for years called Huntsman a shy but kind neighbour who would occasionally watch their children and grandchildren. Her weight seemed to fluctuate, but they said she often wore baggy clothes.

Huntsman's husband Darren West, who was jailed nine years in 2005 for possessing chemicals to make drugs, was released recently.

NEW YORK TIMES