Many questions about mom accused in infant deaths

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 15, 2014 at 4:49 pm •  Published: April 15, 2014
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Investigators are reconstructing a mysterious decade from Megan Huntsman's life as they try to figure out how she concealed seven pregnancies before allegedly strangling or suffocating her newborns.

Utah investigators are examining DNA from the babies to determine who the parents are, studying the bones to find out how long ago the babies died and interrogating family members and talking to neighbors in pursuit of clues about how she did it. They are trying to determine why she did it and who else, if anybody, knew about it or was involved. During the timeline she's given, she lived in the house with her now estranged husband and their three daughters.

Huntsman, 39, acknowledged to police that she killed six of the babies, put them in plastic bags and then packed them inside boxes in the garage of her home south of Salt Lake City over a decade from 1996 to 2006. She told police one of the babies was stillborn.

Huntsman, who was arrested Sunday on six counts of murder, was ordered held on $6 million bail — $1 million for each baby. She is due in court Monday for an arraignment.

Investigators are done with initial interviews of family, friends and neighbors and are digging into evidence, Pleasant Grove Police Capt. Mike Roberts said. They haven't ruled doing more interviews or making more arrests.

"It is a slow, meticulous process," Roberts said.

Huntsman's estranged husband, Darren West, made the discovery Saturday with fellow family members while cleaning out the garage of the house, which is owned by his parents. Police said they are trying to determine his knowledge or involvement.

Many of the answers hinge on what the Utah state medical examiner finds out in its examinations of the seven tiny bodies, which were found in various stages of decomposition in boxes that were on shelves and cabinets in the garage.

Greg Hess, Pima County chief medical examiner in southern Arizona, said forensic anthropologists should eventually be able to determine the sex of the babies based on the DNA results. They should also be able to determine if babies were full term by examining the bones.

But they probably won't be able to figure out if the babies were born alive unless one measures significantly bigger than a typical newborn or there are obvious signs of trauma that caused the death, Hess said. His office handles hundreds of bodies a year found in varying degrees of decomposition in the harsh Arizona desert.

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