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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

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kathymoorenaa April 14 2014 at 10:33 AM

why did the kids not know about this? or could they have been part of it too!?!confusing details.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
kathymoorenaa April 14 2014 at 10:46 AM

13 KIDS WOW in all too

Flag Reply +1 rate up
kurdians April 14 2014 at 10:47 AM

It's frightening how many mentally ill people are in our society today, just waiting to explode. And also how many killers. Someone should keep an eye on Super Paul after that post below! He is, in effect, saying that if they get on your nerves, just kill them and do community service +1 yr. I can't figure out where all these nuts are coming from unless it's the deterioration of their homes with so many divorces and so many abusive parents. The press (sorry bunch) might be blowing it all out of proportion. There could have been abortions, stillborn babies and they didn't have the money for funerals. Wait for the facts. Wonder why all those bodies didn't stink so bad that the neighbors could smell them?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Boogie Man April 14 2014 at 10:48 AM

Lock away the ugly beast. Burn in hell!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
missmary53 April 14 2014 at 10:48 AM

Article does leave numerous questions. So sad that the babies ended up in a cardboard box....no one truly knows how they came to be without DNA testing and cause of death confirmation.

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1 reply
vafilec_39 missmary53 April 14 2014 at 10:57 AM

Maybe they were not hers..... There was a teenager & 2 other adults there. Said she would leave home. Wonder who took care of the younger ones while she left for obviously ..."fun times".

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lisa_lajoie April 14 2014 at 10:48 AM

How do we know if the babies were not stillborn? If she was habitual meth user, it's possible all the babies were miscarriages. What's confusing is why this woman didn't use birth control..

Flag Reply +2 rate up
2 replies
highklte lisa_lajoie April 14 2014 at 10:56 AM

also confusing....why are you using meth when pregnant.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Barbie lisa_lajoie April 14 2014 at 11:01 AM

I agreed with you 100% I wonder same thing.. Plus she should use birth control.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Midge April 14 2014 at 10:51 AM

when are we going to see this as a made for a T V movie?

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

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Margie + Mark April 14 2014 at 10:45 AM

I think the mother AND daughters are responsible for this. 7 babies?? Plenty of couples are looking to adopt. Hopefully it will connect the real mother to the babies and they can rot in jail. (and hell)

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1 reply
notshockedatall Margie + Mark April 14 2014 at 11:01 AM

Why should she rot in jail when there are thousands more out there that do the same thing legally, every minute of the day. By legally I mean by having abortions. It's no different, whether they take the life when the baby is still in the womb or outside, it is still a baby, yet no one seems to get outraged at abortions. I worked for many years in a hospital, we had several women who were considered "frequent fliers" because they constantly came in for abortions. One lady had 11 that I know of in the time period I worked there which was 8 years. So that is more than one a year for her, and like I said, I only knew about those 11, she could have had more. It is a very common thing that most people turn a blind eye to, but to me it's murder no matter how it's done!

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