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The state Medical Examiner’s Office has examined the infants, but is bringing in a specialist before completing its report, Smith said. The police chief said he hopes to identify the genders of all seven, but added that, for now, decomposition makes that difficult.
At first glance, all the babies appear to be full term, Smith said.
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.
Huntsman — who was contacted by police at her West Valley City residence, where she had moved — agreed to go with officers to the Pleasant Grove police station, where she allegedly admitted to the homicides.
Residents of the neighborhood called Huntsman a great neighbor. One neighbor had even trusted Huntsman to watch her grandson.
Huntsman’s estranged husband is believed to be the father of the dead babies, but investigators are still working on DNA tests, Roberts said. Police also are looking into how much knowledge, if any, West had of the pregnancies. But at this point they are not pursuing charges against him.
West has not lived in the home for several years. In 2006, he was sentenced to prison on state and federal drug convictions and is currently residing in a Salt Lake County halfway house. His release date is July 10.
According to a statement in advance of plea filed in U.S. District Court, West admitted that between August 2002 and April 2005, he bought pints of iodine online that were used to manufacture methamphetamine. Police officers also found 199 matchbook striker plates with phosphorous extracted from them in the garbage at the man’s Pleasant Grove home, according to court records.
West pleaded guilty in federal court in August 2006 to two counts of possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to 108 months in federal prison.
Also in August 2006, West pleaded guilty in state court to one count of illegal possession or use of a controlled substance, a third-degree felony, along with misdemeanor DUI. He was given a zero-to-five-years prison sentence, which was ordered to run concurrent with his federal sentence.
Huntsman wrote a letter to the federal judge in July 2006 in which she asked for lenience at her husband’s sentencing. Also in the letter, she said she had allowed a search of her home by two Drug Enforcement Administration agents, who apparently did not find the dead babies.
"We need this guy to keep our family together," Huntsman wrote of her husband. "Everybody loves this guy."
Letters from other family members of Huntsman and West painted a picture of a close-knit, loving family who enjoyed camping, fishing and spending time together. West was the sole provider for the family, according to the letters, and worked for several years at an excavation company.
"Darren has always spent quality time with his wife, Megan, and his three daughters," his mother, Diane West, wrote in a letter. "The girls love their dad."
West’s family has issued a statement saying they are in a "state of shock and confusion."
"We are mourning this tragic loss of life and we are trying to stay strong and help each other through this awful event," the statement said before asking for privacy.
Longtime neighbor Sharon Chipman said West’s parents own the home where the dead babies were discovered, and that Huntsman’s three daughters still live there. The eldest daughters are around 18 to 20 years old, while the youngest is now about 13, Chipman said.
The youngest daughter would have been born in the middle of the time when Huntsman was allegedly killing the infants, which raises questions for the police about why that girl was allowed to live, the police chief said.
West had been cleaning out the garage Saturday because he was getting ready to move back into the house this summer, 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 said she trusted Huntsman to watch her grandson, when he was a toddler, for years.
Aaron and Kathie Hawker live next door to the house and have known the family for years. Aaron Hawker said Saturday he had been watching police come and go from the house all day, adding that he never thought Huntsman looked pregnant.Next Page >
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