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Dominique COTTREZ

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Infanticide
Characteristics: "Denial of pregnancy"
Number of victims: 8
Date of murder: 1989 - 2006
Date of arrest: July 2010
Date of birth: 1965
Victim profile: Her newborn infants
Method of murder: Smothering
Location: Villers-au-Tertre, Nord department, France
Status: Awaiting trial. Freed under supervision
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Dominique Cottrez, 45, is a French woman who admitted killing 8 of her newborn infants. In July 2010, two of the bodies were discovered in plastic bags by new owners working in the garden of a house Dominique and her husband, Pierre-Marie Cottrez, previously occupied.

When police contacted the Cottrez family to question them about the discoveries, Dominique immediately admitted that the bodies belonged to two infants she had given birth to. She also told police that six more infants' bodies were hidden in the garage. All were born over an approximately 17-year period between 1989 and 2006 or 2007.

French prosecutors announced on July 29, 2010 that Dominique had been indicted on murder charges. Her husband, 47, was questioned by a judge but has not been charged at this time. Prosecutors believe he may have been unaware of the infants because Dominique's obesity concealed the pregnancies.

Dominique and Pierre-Marie Cottrez are also the parents of 2 adult daughters who are currently in their 20's.

 
 

Dominique Cottrez

June 1, 2013

Dominique Cottrez, the Frenchwoman who confessed in 2010 to killing eight of her own newborn babies, has been freed under supervision, French media report.

She was released untagged by an appeals court in the northern town of Douai on condition she continued to receive psychological and psychiatric care.

Mrs Cottrez had been in custody since July 2010, when remains were found in the garden of her parents' home.

She was awaiting trial on eight charges of voluntary homicide.

It was not immediately clear on what grounds she had been released.

JBurke

 
 

French woman accused of killing 8 newborns 'very distressed'

CNN.com

July 30, 2010

A French woman who admitted to giving birth to and then smothering eight babies over a 17-year period is "falling apart," according to her attorney.

Lawyer Frank Berton told CNN Friday the woman, Dominique Cottrez, was "psychologically very distressed. She is depressed and falling apart. However, she admits to the crimes and she even helped the police discover the bodies."

Cottrez told investigators she killed the babies because she did not want to have any more children and did not want to see doctors for contraceptives, prosecutor Eric Vaillant told reporters Thursday. Cottrez is overweight and was able to conceal the pregnancies, he said. On Thursday, prosecutors said they had charged her with murder.

"She has been plagued by this for a long time and now she is relieved," Attorney Burton said. "My client will be undergoing psychological tests and treatment to try and understand what pushed her to commit these murders." Burton speculated on one reason: "I believe she could have suffered from pregnancy denial." Burton said Cottrez was a nurse assistant. "She comes from a conventional background. Something went very wrong. One cannot spiral down into horror without an explanation."

Cottrez was secretive but always supportive of her family, two of her daughters said in a local newspaper report published Friday.

"It's incomprehensible," Virginie, 21, told La Voix du Nord newspaper.

Cottrez said she hid the pregnancies and deaths from her husband, Vaillant said. And daughters Virginie and Emeline, who came to court to support their mother Thursday, told La Voix du Nord they were also shocked by the news.

"We never noticed anything. She had moments of fatigue, it's true, but she was working almost 24 hours a day. She would wake up early for her work as a nurse's home aid, and when she would return home, she had her housework," the newspaper reported the daughters' saying.

They described their mother as a caring person who often babysat her grandchildren.

"For us, it's something that one sees on television, but not in a little town like ours," Emeline said, according to La Voix du Nord.

The case came to light when a couple gardening in their backyard in the northern town of Villers-au-Tertre found two babies' bodies in sealed plastic bags and called police.

As word spread and reporters descended on the village, which local media have said has a population of about 700 people, residents said they were still reeling from the news.

Cottrez, 45, grew up in Villers-au-Tertre. Her parents, farmers who are now dead, owned a large part of the arable land in the village, according to La Voix du Nord.

Thursday morning, the village priest left eight candles in front of the door to the couple's home, La Voix du Nord reported.

Police spoke to Cottrez and her husband, who had previously lived in the home, and Cottrez admitted immediately that she was the mother of the two babies the couple found gardening, Vaillant said. She then told police about six others concealed in their garage, Vaillant said.

Those six bodies were also in sealed plastic bags but were covered by various objects, he said.

Cottrez's attorney said Friday she denies burying the babies. "She is adamant about the fact that she did not bury the babies in the garden. She also says it is definitely not her husband. We don't know who did it but she is certain she didn't do it and neither did her husband," Burton said.

The babies were born between 1989 and 2006, but their exact birthdates aren't known, Vaillant said.

Cottrez had psychological problems from her first pregnancy, said Pierre-Jean Gribouva, the lawyer for her husband.

"My client is in a deep state of shock," Gribouva told CNN affiliate BFM. "He had no idea about this. He has totally fallen apart."

A difficult first pregnancy sparked Cottrez's actions, Vaillant said. Because of her weight, the first pregnancy was "traumatic," and she didn't want to go through it again, he said.

Vaillaint did not explain why Cottrez went through a second pregnancy with her other daughter before apparently committing the crimes.

The father, Pierre-Marie Cottrez, hopes the public does not make "simplistic conclusions" about his wife, Gribouva told BFM.

Despite reports that the husband had been charged, Vaillant said he was free to go but may still be investigated. Vaillant said he personally still had "doubts" about the father's story.

"The sky has fallen in on his head," Vaillant said of the father.

 
 

French Woman Jailed After Confessing She Killed her Eight Infants

By Christophe Schpoliansky - ABCNews.go.com

July 29, 2010

Eight candles burned today in front of the "house of horror" in Villers-au-Tertre, a quiet little village in northern France that was stunned to learn that a villager has admitted to giving birth to eight children and then smothering them.

Six of the tiny corpses were found in plastic bags stored in her garage, while two others were buried in the garden of an adjacent yard.

Dominique Cottrez, a 45-year-old nursing assistant, has confessed to killing her eight newborn children at birth and hiding their bodies, police told a news conference today. She is in jail after a judge placed her under formal investigation, one step away from being formally charged for "voluntary murder of minors under the age of 15."

Her husband, Pierre-Marie, a 47-year-old carpenter, was questioned by a judge, but has not been charged with any crime. He remains free. The couple has two other daughters in their 20s.

"The mother, Madame Cottrez, has admitted to having voluntarily suffocated (to death) the newborns at birth between 1989 and 2006 or 2007," Eric Vaillant, the public prosecutor of Douai, told the news conference.

"Monsieur Cottrez told investigators that he never knew his wife was pregnant as she is rather stout or that she got rid of the children immediately following their births " Vaillant said. "His whole world turned upside down" when the husband found out, the prosecutor said. "Madame Cottrez has confirmed her husband's accounts."

The grisly discoveries began on Saturday when a couple who was gardening found the bodies of two infants buried in their garden. They immediately alerted the gendarmes, and the couple was quickly cleared of any wrongdoing.

The investigation then focused on the previous owners of the house, the now-deceased parents of Dominique Cottrez. Questioned as a witness, Cottrez quickly confessed to killing the two infants found in the garden. She then pointed investigators to the other six bodies in her garage.

Dominique Cottrez Did Not Want Any More Children

"She explained she did not want to have any more children and that she did not want to see a doctor to obtain a method of contraception" Vaillant said. "Due to her stoutness, her first childbirth did not go well at all. And because of this, she did not want to see a doctor."

It is now up to the investigating judge to request psychological, psychiatric and medical examinations, notably to determine Cottrez's level of criminal responsibility.

"There are numerous remaining investigations that need to be done to try to understand, without excusing her, what led Madame Cottrez to act this way," the prosecutor said. "We are in the presence of an extraordinary case considering the number of newborns."

The 700 residents of the usually quiet farming village of Villers-au-Tertre were in shock.

"They were very friendly, nice, devoted, always helpful. I don't understand," the Rev. Robert Meignotte, the village's priest, told reporters outside the house where he had placed the memorial candles.

"She had not much contacts with the population," Mayor Patrick Mercier told reporters in front of city hall. "He was a lot more extrovert. He was a member of the village's recreation committee" and the local council, Mercier said, referring to the husband.

It is the lastest case of infanticide in France. In March, a 38-year-old woman was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing six babies at birth between 2000 and 2007.

Another Frenchwoman was convicted last year of murdering three of her newborn children. She was sentenced to eight years in prison. Her husband discovered two of the corpses in a freezer while the two were living in South Korea. During the trial psychiatrists testified that she suffered from a psychological condition known as "pregnancy denial."

 
 

Woman charged in France over babies' bodies

CNN.com

July 29, 2010

French prosecutors said Thursday they charged a woman with murder after she admitted giving birth to and smothering eight babies over a 17-year period in northern France.

The woman, Dominique Cottrez, said she hid the pregnancies and deaths from her husband, who said he had no idea what she had done, prosecutor Eric Vaillant told reporters. Cottrez is overweight and was able to conceal the pregnancies, he said.

Cottrez told investigators the reason she killed the babies was that she did not want to have any more children and did not want to see doctors for contraceptives, Vaillant said.

Despite earlier reports that the husband had been charged, Vaillant said he was free to go but may still be investigated. Vaillant said he personally still had "doubts" about the father's story.

"The sky has fallen in on his head," Vaillant said of the father, Pierre-Marie Cottrez. "He indicated he had no idea she was pregnant."

Vaillant said there are no other babies' bodies left to be found.

The case came to light when a couple gardening in their backyard in the northern town of Villers-au-Tertre found two babies' bodies in sealed plastic bags and called police.

Police spoke to Cottrez and her husband, who had previously lived in the home, and Cottrez admitted immediately that she was the mother of the two babies, Vaillant said. She then told police about six others concealed in their garage, Vaillant said.

Those six bodies were also in sealed plastic bags but were covered by various objects, he said.

Cottrez, a nurse, had psychological problems from her first pregnancy, said Pierre-Jean Gribouva, the lawyer for her husband.

"My client is in a deep state of shock," Gribouva told CNN affiliate BFM. "He had no idea about this. He has totally fallen apart."

The babies were born between 1989 and 2006, but their exact birthdates aren't known, Vaillant said.

"She knew that she was pregnant every time, and she has admitted this," Vaillant said. Cottrez "answered in a very straightforward way."

Cottrez and her husband have two adult daughters, but it was a difficult first pregnancy that sparked her actions, Vaillant said. Because of her weight, the first pregnancy was "traumatic," and she didn't want to go through it again, he said.

Vaillaint did not explain why Cottrez went through a second pregnancy with her other daughter before apparently committing the crimes.

Pierre-Marie Cottrez hopes the public does not make "simplistic conclusions" about his wife, Gribouva told BFM.

The family members "are supporting the wife and the mother because they realize she has serious problems," he said. "There is no rejection of her as a wife and mother."

Psychotherapist Lucy Beresford told CNN that very little was known about incidences of infanticide because it was a taboo subject. A paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers in North Carolina estimated that 2.1 cases of infanticide occurred for every 100,000 births, but Beresford said the body of psychological research was "slim."

Research suggested that women who denied or concealed their pregnancies, for whatever reason, were a "high-risk" group, she said. But other factors could trigger infanticide as well.

"It could actually be to do with the social isolation of the mother, or it could be their psychopathology prior to pregnancy," Beresford told CNN.

"For example, do they have a history of substance abuse or other mental health concerns that have contributed to them being in this situation which they cannot accept as a reality?"

Postnatal depression could also be a possible contributory factor, she said.

"That could be because when they're depressed they're not really of sound mind. It could be that they genuinely believe they are unworthy to be a parent. Or it could just be the level of disordered thinking that comes with being depressed."

 
 

Details emerge in French baby killing case

BBC.co.uk

July 29, 2010

Details have emerged of the woman detained in France over one of biggest infanticide cases in the country's recent history.

People who know Dominique Cottrez, a nursing assistant, say she is a woman with a weight problem who played little part in the life of her village near Lille, Villers-au-Tertre.

Her husband, Pierre-Marie Cottrez, is a carpenter who, by contrast, has sat on the village council for years. He is a "decent, well-meaning type", according to Mayor Patrick Mercier.

The couple, in their 40s, have two grown-up children, both daughters now in their 20s, with children of their own.

Before news of their arrest, it was the common view that the Cottrez couple were "des gens sans histoire", or "quiet people".

Mrs Cottrez has now confessed to killing eight of her own newborn babies, apparently because of memories of difficulties during her first pregnancy.

Her husband was initially detained on suspicion of failing to report the crimes but was later released without charge.

'Would not hurt a fly'

When the people of Villers-au-Tertre, population 655, saw police teams descending on their village some thought an alarm must have been raised over "something left over from the war".

The village serves commuters for towns like Douai and Cambrai in the Nord region and is described by one of them as a "quiet, peaceful" place set deep in the countryside.

Mrs Cottrez was born and educated in the village, local newspaper La Voix du Nord reports. Her two grown daughters still live locally, French media say.

It was at a house on Rue de Fressain which once belonged to her parents that two baby skeletons were found, when the new owners were digging up their garden to put in a pool.

Police traced the find back to the Cottrez couple, who had sold the property, and the mother confessed to having suffocated eight of her own babies.

The remains of the other six were found at the couple's current address on Sentier du Pre, inside plastic bags which had been placed in a fuel storage tank.

This property, where the couple had been living for the past 17 years, is described by La Voix du Nord as a modern-looking, detached house.

Mayor Mercier says the mother rarely ventured out of it. Her weight problem, he told AFP news agency, may have accounted for the fact that her pregnancies had passed unnoticed.

One unnamed neighbour described the mother as a "shy" person who was "very fat" while a teenage girl who knows the two daughters said their mother was a "discreet, simple woman who would not hurt a fly".

'Difficult first birth'

Mrs Cottrez, who faces life imprisonment, insisted her husband had known nothing about either the pregnancies or the killings, an official close to the investigation told AFP.

"She explains that she did not want any more children and that she did not want to see a doctor about methods of contraception," a spokesman for prosecutors told reporters.

Her first delivery had been "difficult because of her large body weight and for that reason she did not want to see a doctor".

As villagers continued to voice their astonishment at the crimes uncovered, local priest Father Robert Meignotte spoke of his horror.

"I'm thinking of all the children [in the world] who didn't ask to be born and were thrown out a few hours later," he said.

"I'm very upset. I baptise five children every Sunday in the 17 villages of the parish. You don't just throw children out like that... It's incomprehensible."

Multiple infanticide cases

The phenomenon of multiple infanticide is nothing new in modern France, where at least a dozen cases have come to light since 1984, according to AFP.

In March of this year, a mother confessed to killing six of her newborn children over eight years and hiding them in the cellar of her house in Valognes, north-west France.

In 1984 a couple in Correze, central France, were jailed for killing seven of their newborn infants over a period of seven years.

And the French newspaper La Depeche mentions a trial in the 1970s when a farming couple in the Nord region were convicted of killing nine babies.

"At the time, there was talk of a method of spontaneous contraception," court psychiatrist Dr Daniel Ajzenberg told the paper.

Experts say infanticide cases often involve "denial of pregnancy", when women refuse to accept they are pregnant.

About 500 such cases are recorded each year around the world, Professor Israel Nisand of the University Hospital in Strasbourg told Reuters news agency.

One of the most notorious cases was in Germany in 2006, when a mother was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the manslaughter of eight of her newborn babies. A ninth baby had also died but too much time had lapsed to allow a prosecution.

Dominique Cottrez did not cite denial of pregnancy as a motive in her case, French prosecutors said.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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