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Megan HUNTSMAN

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Infanticide
Number of victims: 6
Date of murders: 1996 - 2006
Date of arrest: April 13, 2014
Date of birth: 1975
Victims profile: Six of her newborn babies
Method of murder: Strangulation - Suffocation

Location: Pleasant Grove, Utah County, Utah, USA

Status: Ordered held on $6 million bail on April 14, 2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
photo gallery
 
 
 
 
 
 
Probable cause statement
 
 
 
 
 
 

Questions Surround Case Of Megan Huntsman, Mom Charged With Killing 6 Newborns

By Brady McCombs - HuffingtonPost.com

April 15, 2014

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.

The inability to scientifically determine if the babies were born alive could be key later if defense attorneys argue that the babies were stillborn.

Determining exactly how long ago the babies died will be challenging, Hess said. Unlike what is sometimes portrayed in movies and TV shows like CSI, forensic anthropologists cannot pinpoint the date and time precisely. Sometimes, the estimated time of death can span a 10- to 15-year window, Hess said.

"The older the remains, the larger the window is," Hess said. "The more recent the remains, the tighter you can make the window."

The question of whether Huntsman was using drugs during the pregnancies remains unanswered. Roberts declined to discuss what investigators have found out in this regard.

Her husband, West, spent more than eight years in federal prison after pleading guilty to possessing chemicals intended to be used in manufacturing methamphetamine. West was released from a federal prison in California in January and transferred to a halfway house in Salt Lake City.

It will likely be very difficult for the medical examiner to shed any light on whether the babies had something wrong with them, Hess said, unless there is was an odd skeletal abnormality. Studies to assess conditions such as Down syndrome are done on live tissue, he said.

Neighbors have described Huntsman as a nice, quiet woman who was trusted to take care of children and generally seen as a good person.

Police have been talking with many of them in search of clues. Next-door neighbor SanDee Wall said police asked her about whether Huntsman looked pregnant, if she was seen with other men and about a small trailer in the backyard. Wall told them she noticed weight fluctuations over the years, but didn't notice any men coming and going or anything odd happening in the trailer.

 
 

Neighbor: Huntsman had a miscarriage recently

Woman, accused of killing her six newborns, reportedly was excited to be a grandmother.

By Michael McFall - The Salt Lake Tribune

April 15, 2014

West Valley City - Megan Huntsman was going to have another child just a few months ago.

Josh Flowers, who has lived next door to Huntsman in a West Valley City mobile-home park for the past year, remembers how the pregnant woman went to the hospital several months ago because of a miscarriage. Now, he sees the tragedy in a new context: Police say she had, and lost, seven other babies.

Adding a dark twist to that, investigators suspect Huntsman, 39, strangled or suffocated six of those prior infants right after she gave birth to them in her former Pleasant Grove home. The seventh was believed to be stillborn.

Investigators know Huntsman’s motive, police Capt. Michael Roberts said Tuesday. But they are declining to specify what it was, except to say that they do not suspect mental illness was involved.

Gov. Gary Herbert weighed in on the case Tuesday, calling it "incomprehensible."

"We can’t wrap our minds around it or draw any kind of rational conclusion to why. It doesn’t make any sense," he said. "I pray for the families. I pray for those who are struggling with this. It’s just such a tragedy. I suspect there are mental health issues there we don’t know about. It just makes me sad."

Whatever the reason, the portrait of a longtime infanticide serial killer, whose alleged secret came to light Saturday, does not mesh at all with Flowers’ impression of a woman he called a great neighbor.

"She loved kids," Flowers said Tuesday. After Huntsman moved in with her boyfriend a little more than a year ago, she started watching Flowers’ three toddler and grade-school-age children and his nephew. She would go to the park with them and play ball.

Flowers’ 10-year-old daughter in particular liked her.

"That’s where I’m still at. ... She watched my kids," Flowers said. "She was in my house."

Flowers’ impressions of Huntsman echo what her longtime neighbors in Pleasant Grove have said. One of them, Sharon Chipman, even let Huntsman watch her toddler-age grandson for years.

Flowers knew, though, that her life was not perfect. After her husband, Darren Brad West, 41, was convicted on drug charges in 2006, from what Flowers understands, that was an opening for West’s parents to ask Huntsman to start moving out, which she did in 2011.

Huntsman first lived with her mother in West Valley City, before moving in with the boyfriend at Meadowbrook Village Mobile Home Park, located at about 1300 West and 3900 South.

Then, her now-estranged husband was getting out of prison. West has been finishing his time at a halfway house and on Saturday had returned to their Pleasant Grove home, where their three daughters still live, to clear out the garage and prepare to move back this summer.

That was when, police say, West found one dead infant tucked inside a cardboard box in the garage and called law enforcement. Officers then came and found six more dead babies in boxes.

"It’s very disturbing," Flowers said.

Police arrived Saturday at the mobile-home park to take in Huntsman for questioning. Her boyfriend was just getting back from his own mother’s funeral when he saw the police cars surrounding his house, Flowers said.

After they took her to the station, Huntsman admitted to the police that she gave birth to the seven infants between 1996 and 2006, and killed the six who were born alive, according to an arrest affidavit.

She was booked on suspicion of six counts of homicide into the Utah County jail, where she has been on suicide watch.

At a Monday hearing in Provo’s 4th District Court, a judge set bail at $6 million, cash-only.

Huntsman is scheduled to appear in court again April 21, at which time formal charges could be filed.

Flowers remembers hearing about a similar case on the East Coast and thought such a crime could never happen here.

He said he cannot imagine what Huntsman’s daughters — ages 20, 18 and 14 — must be going through, particularly since the youngest would have been born in the middle of the time frame when the other babies died.

It still does not add up to the woman Flowers knew. One of Huntsman’s elder daughters is currently pregnant, and Huntsman seemed to be excited at the prospect of becoming a grandmother, Flowers recalled.

"I don’t know how somebody can do that and go on with their day … be a good mother figure … and look at yourself in the mirror and be OK," Flowers said.

Utah investigators are examining DNA from the babies to determine whom the parents are and studying the bones to find out how long ago the babies died. Greg Hess, Pima County chief medical examiner in southern Arizona, said forensic anthropologists should eventually be able to also determine the sex of the babies based on the DNA results, and determine if the 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.

The inability to scientifically determine if the babies were born alive could be key later if defense attorneys argue that the babies were stillborn.

The investigators are done with their initial interviews of family, friends and neighbors and are now digging into evidence, police captain Roberts said. But they haven’t ruled out doing more interviews or making more arrests.

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

Next-door neighbor SanDee Wall said police asked her about whether Huntsman looked pregnant, if she was seen with other men and about a small trailer in the backyard. Wall told them she noticed weight fluctuations through the years, but didn’t notice any men coming and going or anything odd happening in the trailer.

Tribune reporter Thomas Burr and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

 
 

EXCLUSIVE 'They're not mine': Estranged husband of woman who admitted to strangling and suffocating six of her babies insists he isn't the father and says she was kicked out of the house for cheating on him

  • Megan Huntsman, 33, was arrested Sunday for allegedly killing six of her newborn babies and hiding them, along with a stillborn seventh child

  • Her estranged husband Darren West discovered the stillborn baby while cleaning his parents house on Saturday

  • He called the police who then discovered the six other bodies

  • Huntsman lived at the home with their three daughters after her husband was incarcerated in 2006

  • West allegedly told a neighbor that the killed children were not his

  • He said Huntsman was kicked out of the home by his parents after they found out she was cheating on him with a coworker

  • Police are conducting DNA tests to determine paternity, but believe Huntsman and her husband were together at the time of the murders

By Paul Thompson - DailyMail.co.uk

April 15, 2014

The 39-year-old Utah mother who has admitted killing six of her newborn babies was thrown out of her home by her in-laws after she began an affair while her husband was prison, MailOnline can reveal.

Megan Huntsman was told to leave the home she shared with her three daughters when she cheated on her husband Darren.

Her in-laws Stephen and Diane West, who owned the home where she lived, told her to leave in 2011 after finding out about the affair.

Huntsman, who is being held on $6million bail, is alleged to have told detectives the babies found dead in her home, were conceived with her now-estranged husband.

But news of the affair raises the question that some of the babies who were strangled or smothered at birth might have been born as a result of an extra-marital cheating.

Darren West has also told police he had no knowledge of the babies.

Aaron Hawker, who lives next door, said he had spoken with West since he made the shocking discovery of the skeletal remains.

'He has told me he has no idea where the babies come from, ' said Mr Hawker. 'He has insisted that they were not his.'

Huntsman admitted to killing the children in a period between 1996 and 2006, and police believe she was still with her husband at the time. They have ordered DNA tests to determine the paternity of the murdered children.

Mr Hawker, 73, said he was told by West that Huntsman was told to leave the marital home after she began an affair.

Her in-laws had agreed to let her to live in the three bedroom home after their son was jailed in 2006 on drugs charges.

According to Mr Hawker, one condition was that she must stay faithful to her husband while he was inside and not see any other men.

'What I was told by Darren was that she began an affair and when her in-laws found out they told her to leave. I do not know how long the affair went on for, but was told that it was with a co-worker.

'Megan left in 2011 and since then we have hardly ever seen her at the house. She would not come back very often and was told she was not welcome in the house.'

When Huntsman left, her eldest daughter Darien had just turned 18 with the next youngest Jaycee, aged 17 and the youngest Sawyer aged 11. An aunt Mary West moved into the home to help look after the girls. The two eldest daughters are now adults and the youngest is a teenager.

'We used to see the girls from time to time and they were just your average girls,' said Mr Hawker.

'I think the older ones were looking forward to dating. I have not see them since the bodies were found.'

Mr Hawker admitted that he never saw Megan pregnant or even put on any weight.

'It is a complete mystery to me and my wife Kathie. Megan was always very shy, but she was very nice.'

Mr Hawker said he wrote to her husband West after he was given a nine-year jail sentence on drugs charges.

He said he considered the sentence harsh as West claimed he had only agreed to take in a package for a friend after being offered $200.

'I thought the sentence was unjust and liked Darren. He was a lovely man and I had a lot of time for him.

'I would write to him in prison and when he got out he came to see us. We were glad he was moving back into the house.'

West was released earlier this year and was at his home in the town of Pleasant Grove, abut 35 miles from Salt Lake City when he made the horrifying discovery of the bodies.

He called his wife after opening one of the boxes to find a corpse of what is believed to be the seventh still born baby.

She is alleged to have told him it was her baby.

When police carried out a search of the garage they found six other babies. Each had been wrapped in a towel and placed in a box.

Police have said Megan has admitted to strangling or smothering six of the babies after carrying them full term.

She said the seventh was still born.

While Mr Hawker did not ever suspect Megan was pregnant another next door neighbor suspected on several occasions that she was carrying a child.

'I would see her walk up the driveway and she would have the smallest of bumps on her stomach,' said 70-year-old SanDee Wall.

'I thought to myself of several occasions she must be pregnant, but I did not like to say anything to her.

'Megan was so shy and not the sort of person who would engage in conversation.'

Ms Wall said after Huntsman's husband was jailed she would often see her the worse for wear for drink.

'I would also smell pot quite a lot and on many occasions I would see her drunk.That could have been one of the reasons she was asked to leave the house.'

Neighbors in the quiet, tree lined street are puzzled as to how Hunstman was able to conceal so many pregnancies from her husband.

Although he worked in the construction industry he was home most nights and rarely away from his family.

'I had two of my last children at home then and as any mother who has given birth knows it can be very messy," said Mrs Wall.

'I just don't understand how she could have concealed so many babies from her husband.'

West has refused to comment since making the shocking discovery in his garage.

His parents have also declined to comment after earlier issuing a statement expressing their shock at the death of the babies.

 
 

Utah mom admits strangling, suffocating six of her babies, hiding bodies in garage over 10-year period

Megan Huntsman, 39, allegedly told investigators she killed six of her babies between 1996 and 2006 before stuffing their tiny bodies in cardboard boxes and hiding them in the garage of her former Pleasant Grove home. At her arraignment Monday, Huntsman was ordered held in lieu of $6 million bail — $1 million for each child killed.

By Joe Kemp and Tim O’connor - New York Daily News

Monday, April 14, 2014

Megan Huntsman told police she snuffed the life out of six of her newborn babies, wrapped them in towels and tucked them away in boxes in her Utah garage.

What remained unclear Monday — a day after Huntsman, 39, was arrested on six counts of murder — was why she committed the heinous crimes at her former home in Pleasant Grove.

During her interview with police, the accused baby killer was unemotional and matter of fact, Pleasant Grove police Lt. Britt Smith said.

Huntsman, who appeared in court Monday and was ordered held on $6 million bail, said she gave birth to at least seven babies between 1996 and 2006, according to a probable cause statement released by police.

The West Valley, Utah, woman told cops she killed the six babies that were born alive in the home she shared with then-husband Darren West — strangling or suffocating them immediately after birth.

Police said they found the remains of a seventh infant in the garage, but that baby appears to have been stillborn.

Looking worn and tired, Huntsman held her hand to her face as she appeared in court via closed-circuit TV from jail.

“That’s fine,” she blandly said to her lawyer when told of the high cash bail set by the judge.

“This is a heinous, horrible crime,” Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.

It was West, Huntsman’s now-estranged husband, who made the grim discovery Saturday while cleaning out his garage.

West, 41, called Huntsman after he found the first dead baby, police said, then called the cops — and even veteran officers were stunned by what they found.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my career,” Pleasant Grove Detective Dan Beckstrom said.

Huntsman’s three daughters were living with Huntsman and West in the house before he was sentenced in 2005 to nine years in prison for a drug conviction.

 
 

Police: Utah woman gave birth to, killed 6 infants in 10-year span

By Tiffany DeMasters, Mark Green, Carly Figueroa and Todd Tanner - Fox13news.com

April 13, 2014

PLEASANT GROVE — A 39-year-old woman was arrested Saturday after seven bodies of dead infants were discovered in a Pleasant Grove home, and officials said they believe that, over a 10-year period, she gave birth to six of the children then killed them.

Pleasant Grove Police responded to the home at 530 E. 200 North after residents who were cleaning out a garage found what they believed to be a dead infant in a container.

Capt. Michael Roberts, Pleasant Grove PD, said the residents found “a suspicious package with a pungent smell, and they opened the package partially and found what they believed to be a deceased infant in the box and they called police.”

When they arrived, police found the infant to be at full term, according to a press release from the Pleasant Grove Police Department.

Roberts said a search warrant was obtained and “subsequently six more bodies of infants were found in separate containers, cardboard boxes.”

According to the press release, “During the course of the investigation information was obtained that; over a 10 year period a 39 year old female gave birth to the infants and then killed them.”

According to a probable cause statement released Monday morning, Huntsman admitted to strangling or suffocating the babies immediately after they were born.

Megan Huntsman was booked into the Utah County Jail and faces six counts of murder. Police officials later told FOX 13 News that there are six charges because investigators believe one of the seven was a stillborn child.

On Monday morning, a judge set Huntsman’s bail at $1 million for each count of murder, for a total of $6 million.

FOX 13 News’ Carly Figueroa spoke with neighbors and officials, see the video above for those interviews.

Huntsman had not lived in the home since 2011. Police said Huntsman had shared the home with her husband, a Mr. West, and they had lived there for some time. The man served nine years in federal prison on drug distribution related charges. Police told FOX 13 News the couple was estranged.

The home has two separate residences. The bodies were found in the upper residence with its attached garage, and that residence had not been lived in since 2011 when Huntsman left.

Police said Huntsman told them West was the father of the infants, and police said they believe her. They said they believe the infants were born and killed between 1996 and 2006 while West was not imprisoned. Police said West is not considered a suspect in the infants’ death.

West was among those who found the first infant, and Roberts said, “there’s a strong possibility,” the man opened the box to find his own child dead inside.

Police said the home was owned by West’s parents, who had overseen the home during the time Huntsman lived there while West was in prison.

West returned Saturday, which is when he started to clear out the home. That is when he and those helping him found a box that smelled bad and appeared to contain a dead infant.

Police said during the time Megan Huntsman was living at the home she was there with three children of hers and West’s. Those children are now 13, 18 and 20.

Neighbor Kathie Hawker said Huntsman had moved out of the home after what they called a struggle with substance abuse.

“Yeah, we were worried about her because we could see that she was not looking in good health, and we were worried about the children that lived there with her, her three daughters lived there,” Hawker said.

Kathie’s husband, Aaron Hawker, said it is shocking to learn Huntsman was allegedly pregnant so many times.

He said: “She always looked kind of slim, I mean, to have this many babies full term, it’s like… Where were they?”

Police said several warrants have been issued in the case, including a search warrant for Huntsman’s West Valley City home.

A law was passed in Utah in 2001 that allows people who have a child but aren’t prepared to care for it to drop the child off with no questions asked and no liability. See the the video below for details on the Safe Haven law.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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