CHICAGO (AFP) - A United States mother in Ohio admitted that she had killed her three young sons in separate incidents over the past 13 months because her husband paid more attention to the boys than a daughter, the police said.
Brittany Pilkington called 911 shortly after 3am on Tuesday (Aug 18) to report that her three-month-old baby, Noah, was not breathing.
Police said they immediately began a "tedious investigation" because it was "the third such incidence at this same residence involving similar circumstances".
Another three-month-old son, Niall, was found dead by father Joseph Pilkington when he came home from work in July last year. The cause of death was not determined.
Then on April 6, the father came home to find their four-year-old son, Gavin, was also dead.
Brittany Pilkington was charged with murder after she confessed "she intentionally killed all three of her sons", the police said in a statement.
She reportedly killed them by putting a blanket over their heads and suffocating them because her husband paid more attention to the boys than he did their daughter, who will turn four later this month.
"In her mind, she was protecting her daughter from being not as loved as the boys were by their father," Logan County Prosecutor William Goslee told the Columbus Dispatch.
Noah and his sister Hailey had been removed from the home because the police were investigating Gavin's death.
But a judge sent them back earlier this week after a coroner determined that neither Gavin nor Niall had died of suspicious causes, the paper said.
Brittany Pilkington's uncle was appalled that the children were returned to the family.
"Why would you give them back after a little boy just died and when you're in the middle of an investigation?" Joe Skaggs told the Dispatch.
Mr Goslee said child protective services typically try to keep families together, but added: "I've been aware, and concerned about, this family since this first child died."
The Bellefontaine, Ohio, police department said the deaths "leave a pit in our stomachs".
"Our condolences go out to the remaining family members and friends who have supported this family through this very difficult 13 months."