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Police seek answers after 7 dead babies found in home

Apr. 14, 2014 3:11 AM EDT
By Brady McCombs

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (AP) - The discovery of seven dead babies in cardboard boxes in a Utah garage has police desperately seeking answers from the mother and other family members about how such a tragedy unfolded over a decade with no one noticing.

Megan Huntsman, 39, is accused of killing her babies after giving birth to the children between 1996 and 2006, investigators said. She was booked Sunday into the Utah County Jailwith six counts of murder. It wasn't immediately clear if Huntsman has an attorney or why there were six counts and not seven.

The gruesome case has raised a series of questions about how the killings occurred despite Huntsman carrying out what neighbors seemed like a normal existence. Police declined to comment on a motive and what Huntsman said during an interview with investigators.

Her estranged husband made the discovery while cleaning out the garage after recently getting out of prison, and authorities do not believe he was aware of the killings and he isn't a person of interest at this time.

Police Capt. Michael Roberts said officers responded to a call from him Saturday about a dead infant, and then they found the six other bodies.

Family and neighbors identified the estranged husband as Darren West, who has been in prison on drug-related charges.

Roberts said police believe West and Huntsman were together when the babies were born.

"We don't believe he had any knowledge of the situation," Roberts told The Associated Press

Asked how the man could not have known about the situation, Roberts replied, "That's the million-dollar question. Amazing."

The babies' bodies were sent to the Utah medical examiner's office for tests, including one to determine the cause of death. DNA samples taken from the suspect and her husband will determine definitively whether the two are the parents, as investigators believe.

Huntsman also has three daughters - one teenager and two young adults - who lived at the house.

Neighbors in the middle-class neighborhood of mostly older homes 35 miles south of Salt Lake City say they were shocked by the accusations and perplexed that the woman's older children still living in the home didn't know their mother was pregnant or notice anything suspicious.

Police say West made the grisly discovery at the house owned by his parents in a city of about 35,000 people at the foot of snow-capped mountains. It's a nondescript, newer home with a brick facade and a star ornament hanging by the door.

Several police cars blocked the entrance to the house Sunday evening as officers milled about with the belongings from the garage strewn across the front lawn.

Late Sunday, West's family issued a statement saying they were in a "state of shock and confusion."

"We are mourning this tragic loss of life and we are trying to stay strong and help each other through this awful event," the statement said before asking for privacy.

West pleaded guilty in federal court in 2005 to two counts of possessing chemicals intended to be used in manufacturing methamphetamine, court records show. In August 2006, he was sentenced to nine years in prison, but appealed the term three times. He maintained his innocence and said he never had any intention to manufacture meth. It's unclear when he was released.

West's sister Sarah Wright wrote to federal district court in 2006, saying West is a good father to his three daughters. She said he worked at an excavation company for 11 years and is an avid outdoorsman who likes to fish and camp.

"Darren is such an awesome dad," she wrote.

Neighbors told the AP they were shocked and horrified by the accusations of what went on inside the home. None of them even knew Huntsman was pregnant in recent years.

The family members seemed like nice people and good neighbors, said Aaron and Kathie Hawker, who live next door.

Huntsman moved out several years ago, leaving her three daughters, one teenager and two young adults, to live alone, the Hawkers said. They weren't sure where Huntsman has since been living.

Years ago, Huntsman baby-sat the Hawker grandchildren and they were friendly with each other.

"It makes us so sad, we want to cry," Kathie Hawker said. "We enjoyed having them as a neighbor. This has just blown us away."

Aaron Hawker said he talked with West on Saturday morning. He told Hawker he was cleaning out the mess in the garage.

"Two hours later, suddenly we had all these policemen here," Aaron Hawker said.

Fred Newman, a neighbor whose cousin is the husband's mother, said he's perplexed how the three oldest daughters living there didn't know about what police say was going on. He said the girls didn't always park their cars in the garage, but did sometimes in the cold winter months.

"What's shocking is the three older ones living there and not noticing that their mother was pregnant," Newman said.

He said he has used his snow-blower to clean off the driveway of the home and the young women would thank him.

The girls were normal youngsters, coming and going often, neighbor Vickie Nelson said.

"It's shocking and kind of morbid and strange," Nelson said as he looked across the street at the garage from her from lawn.

Roberts said the case has been "emotionally draining" and upsetting to investigators. He was at the home when the bodies were discovered.

"My personal reaction? Just shocked. Couldn't believe it. The other officers felt the same," the 19-year police veteran said.

"They got more and more shocked each box they opened," Roberts said.

Police Find 7 Dead Babies In Utah Home

Join the discussion

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Jiboko April 14 2014 at 9:18 AM

Maybe babies were not from Darren West who got out of prison ???

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Raejean April 14 2014 at 9:01 AM

It's all very strange including who might actually have given birth to these infants, but since no one apparently knew anyone was pregnant, it also begs the morbid question about why they kept (and left behind) rather than dispose of the remains.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
winky_dink April 14 2014 at 10:52 AM

So who was helping her make all those babies?
Her moron husband was in prison.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
prescottvalley6 winky_dink April 14 2014 at 10:58 AM

EXACTLY Winky! hmmm, that would be a good motive to the story.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
fayeroy66 April 14 2014 at 10:52 AM

woman is mentally sick and needs help. my prayers goes out to the family

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Teslarocker1 April 14 2014 at 10:53 AM

Bizarre! That's all I can say. I agree with all of the people say "how could she have gotten pregnant seven times without her older children even noticing?"

Flag Reply +3 rate up
fayeroy66 April 14 2014 at 10:54 AM

woman has got to be mentally sick. what mother would would do something like that

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
celeste fayeroy66 April 14 2014 at 11:00 AM

Any excuse for a white person committing a crime! Had she been a black mother, it would have been blamed on crack or President Obama. Let's call a spade a spade. She opened her legs at least seven times, got pregnant seven + times and DISCARDED those seven precious souls. Mental illness my butt! Birth control is an answer; even if its condoms that the government don't have to pay for.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
3 replies
notshockedatall fayeroy66 April 14 2014 at 11:06 AM

Thousands of women do it everyday and get away with it because it is legal in our country to kill babies! Why is this any different? Unless you are one that doesn't think a fetus is a living human being!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
i.plau April 14 2014 at 10:54 AM

I don't know about you, but I would not like to tangle with this woman in no dark alley for sure. The b***h looks craaazy for sure!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
vafilec_39 April 14 2014 at 10:54 AM

Still born & miscarriages are usually given a decent burial. Not put in a cardboard box and placed in the garage. The smell would have made anyone ill.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Demar April 14 2014 at 10:54 AM

The shocking discovery of 7 babies in shoe boxes is indicative that MENTAL ILLNESS is running rampant in that family...
If whoever was responsible for the murders of the innocent babies was anywhere near being a human being and not an animal they would have buried the bodies not leave them to be discovered...
did I say animal...I give animals more credit.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Natalia April 14 2014 at 10:56 AM

That looks like a crazy lady..

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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