Megan Huntsman, who was booked into the Utah County jail on
suspicion of killing six of her newborn children over the
past decade. Photo Reuters
A judge has set bail at $US6 million for a Utah woman
suspected of killing six infants after giving birth to them,
then stuffing their bodies into cardboard boxes which were
found at a house where she used to live.
Police said Megan Huntsman, 39, admitted under questioning
that she strangled or suffocated the babies immediately after
Bail was set at a court hearing a day after Huntsman was
arrested and booked into the Utah County jail on six counts
of murdering the babies born over roughly a 10-year period.
The remains of a seventh infant were also found, but
authorities believe that baby was stillborn.
At a hearing in Provo, Utah, District Judge Steven Hansen set
bail at $1 million for each count of murder, said court
spokeswoman Nancy Volmer. Huntsman was in jail for the bail
hearing, as is routine, and appeared via videoconference,
Huntsman has not been formally charged, and Volmer said she
did not know if the woman has retained an attorney. An
arraignment date will be set for Huntsman after she is
formally charged, Volmer said.
Police say Huntsman is the only person of interest in the
case and was cooperative.
She was arrested after her estranged husband, Darren Brad
West, discovered the remains of one infant while cleaning the
garage. West is not believed to have played a role in the
killings, and investigators plan to conduct DNA tests to
determine the paternity of the infants, the Salt Lake Tribune
Police found the remains of the six other newborns, all
wrapped in a towel or shirt and placed in plastic bags in
separate cardboard boxes at the home where Huntsman lived
until 2011 in Pleasant Grove, about 35 miles (56 km) south of
Salt Lake City, said Pleasant Grove Police Captain Michael
Police believe the seven babies were born to Huntsman from
about 1996 to 2006. In 1996, West was sentenced on state and
federal drug convictions, and he is now residing in a Salt
Lake County half-way house, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Aaron Hawker, 73, a neighbor of the house where the bodies
were discovered, said in a phone interview Huntsman babysat
his grandchildren about 10 years ago and was "shy, very nice
always." He said he never noticed her looking pregnant.
Hawker said he "had a lot of respect" for West, who described
as "a really good guy.
"We've been in a state of shock since yesterday," Hawker
said. "Finding out about all these children. Short of the
shock value, we've never seen anything weird or strange or
out of sorts with that family.
He said he spoke with West, who "was in tears and saying he
does not know how this could happen."