Questions linger in Megan Huntsman investigation
Mystery • No one apparently knew of Megan Huntsman’s pregnancies.
Published: April 16, 2014 05:46PM
Updated: April 16, 2014 10:35PM
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Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune The Pleasant Grove home Sunday, April 13, 2014, where 7 dead babies were discovered on April 13, 2014. 39-year-old Megan Huntsman was arrested and booked on suspicion of six counts of murder. Police say she may have had the babies and killed them all over the last decade. Police believe she gave birth to the babies then killed them over the past decade, according to a police news release.

Questions continue to swirl around Megan Huntsman’s dark and disturbing case, including how people — including her husband — apparently were unaware she was giving birth to children almost every year for a decade, then allegedly killing them and hiding their bodies in her Pleasant Grove home.

Huntsman’s estranged husband found the body of a dead infant in the garage Saturday. Police discovered six more, all tucked into cardboard boxes.

Huntsman, 39, subsequently admitted to suffocating or strangling six of the infants immediately after giving birth between 1996 and 2006, according to an arrest affidavit. The seventh child is believed to have been stillborn.

Huntsman has been arrested on suspicion of six counts of first-degree felony murder.

Police do not consider Huntsman’s now-estranged husband, 41-year-old Darren Brad West, a suspect or a person of interest at this time, even though he is believed to have fathered all of the infants. In his initial statement to the police, West claimed he did not know about any of the pregnancies, said police Capt. Michael Roberts.

West has since obtained an attorney and investigators haven’t spoken with him again, Roberts said. They are trying to determine his knowledge or involvement.

In 2006, West went to prison on drug convictions and is currently living at a Salt Lake County halfway house.

Roberts said investigators have determined that Huntsman did not go to a hospital to have the seven babies in question, all of which appeared to be full term.

The captain could not comment Wednesday as to whether Huntsman, described in jail records as 5-foot-4 and 105 pounds, “carries light” during pregnancy or how her husband would not know she had been pregnant so many times.

But Roberts noted that no one knew Huntsman was pregnant with her two eldest daughters — who are now 20 and 18 — until she gave birth to them at a hospital.

One of Huntsman’s longtime Pleasant Grove neighbors has said she had noticed some weight fluctuations through the years, but never thought she was pregnant. Even Huntsman’s West Valley City boyfriend, James Brady, told ABC4 that he did not know she was pregnant last year until she miscarried.

Huntsman has not lived at the Pleasant Grove home since 2011, according to police.

As for the investigation into the deaths of the infants, state Medical Examiner Todd Grey and his team have a long challenge ahead of them. He expects his office will not have a finished report for weeks.

Though he could not talk specifically about the Huntsman matter, Grey said that “in any case where we are dealing with badly decomposed remains, obviously there are number of things we’re trying to do,” including confirming the babies’ identities with little to go on.

“Obviously, the less information you have about who the person could be,” Grey said, “the more difficult [the process of determining] who that body belongs to.”

The infants in this case lack the kind of history — birth certificates, dental records, medical histories — that would normally help confirm their parentage. DNA works as an alternative, though “the question [then] becomes, can DNA be extracted from the material” that the examiners have to work with, said Grey, who declined to comment on the likelihood of that in this case.

As for confirming how the infants died, the lab has brought in a specialist to help: Derinna Kopp, the state’s sole forensic anthropologist.

Kopp, who works for the Utah Division of State History’s antiquities section, could be asked to determine if potential breaks or fractures to the infants’ skeletal remains happened before or after they died.

Meanwhile, the majority of the Pleasant Grove Police Department is combing through the Huntsman evidence, while the rest continue to patrol the streets and work other cases. Roberts said the department has not asked for outside agency help with the homicide case.

Huntsman is being held at the Utah County jail on $6 million cash-only bail. She is scheduled to appear Monday in Provo’s 4th District Court.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

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