Pleasant Grove police made a grisly discovery Saturday: seven dead infants, six of them in cardboard boxes.
Megan Huntsman, 39, was arrested early Sunday on suspicion of six counts of murder.
Safe Haven law enacted to save babies’ lives
Utah has had a Safe Haven law on the books since 2001, allowing biological parents to anonymously give up custody of their newborn child without facing any legal consequences. Intended to save children’s lives, the law tries to prevent women from abandoning infants in places such as trash cans and bathrooms.
The Utah representative who originally sponsored the law, then-Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, had heard the media coverage of one young Utah woman who left her newborn in a drawer in her parents’ home. The baby was found days later, dead.
In 2012, officials said that at least one baby a year has been left at a Utah hospital since the law took effect. Exactly how many babies have been saved in Utah is difficult to determine, because some women call the Safe Haven hotline at 1-866-458-0058 to learn about resources such as adoption, pregnancy health information and programs that provide financial support for keeping a baby.
Police believe she gave birth to the babies and then killed them during the past decade, according to a police news release.
On Saturday, police responded to a call from Huntsman’s estranged husband — who was initially identified by police as her ex-husband — about a dead infant found inside a Pleasant Grove home where Huntsman lived until 2011. Officers arrived and found the body of a newborn infant, who appeared to be full term, according to the release.
Police obtained a search warrant for the home and found six more babies packaged in separate cardboard boxes inside the garage, said police Capt. Michael Roberts.
Investigators learned that Huntsman allegedly gave birth to the infants, then killed them, over a 10-year period, the release adds. Her estranged husband is believed to be the father, but investigators are still working on DNA tests, Roberts said.
At this point, police are not pursuing charges against the estranged husband, Roberts said.
Police said two people are living in the Pleasant Grove home at this time, a rambler which is split into upstairs and downstairs apartments.
The estranged husband’s parents own the home, and Huntsman’s three daughters still live there, said longtime neighbor Sharon Chipman. The eldest daughters are around 18 to 20 years old, while the youngest is now about 13, Chipman said. Chipman hasn’t seen the daughters since the news broke.
The estranged husband had been cleaning out the garage on Saturday getting ready to move back into the house this summer, Chipman said.
"He was finally coming down to help take care of his family — and to run across that, It would devastate him," Chipman said.
Chipman had noticed that Huntsman had gained and lost some weight in the years she lived there, but Chipman never considered that she was pregnant.
She was a great neighbor, and Chipman even trusted Huntsman to watch her grandson, when he was a toddler, for years.
"She took good care of him. She was good. This really shocks me," she said.
Aaron Hawker lives next door to the house and has known the family for years. He had been watching police come and go from the house all day and also never thought Huntsman looked pregnant.
He described her as a great neighbor, and her husband as "a good guy." In fact, Hawker saw and talked to Huntsman’s husband just Saturday morning.
Megan Huntsman has no criminal record, aside from a 2011 traffic citation, according to a search of Utah court records.
This is not the first time Utah County investigators have had to handle a case of a mother allegedly killing her babies.
An Orem mother, Darcie Jo Baum, secretly gave birth three times and let the infants die.
The final birth, in 1999, cost the 26-year-old her life; she bled to death after delivering an infant son into a basement toilet where he drowned.
Baum’s second-born son, Draye, was the only child to survive.Next Page >
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