Police say Utah mother killed her six babies because they were ‘in the way’ of her meth use


Megan Huntsman. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool, File)

In April, a Utah mother was accused of smothering or strangling six of her newborns, stuffing their bodies into cardboard boxes and storing them in her garage. On Tuesday, police said she allegedly killed them because “they were in the way” of her meth use.

Megan Huntsman, 39, is now charged with six counts of first-degree murder. She is accused of killing her six babies in a 10-year period from 1996 to 2006. A seventh child was stillborn, authorities said.

“[Huntsman] admitted that she needed money basically to buy the drugs, she couldn’t afford the drugs, and kind of speculated that the babies would be in the way, so to speak,” Pleasant Grove Police Capt. Michael Roberts told the Deseret News. “She couldn’t afford the babies and the drugs both, so she had to choose one or the other.

“There wasn’t a lot of remorse. It was more like a job interview than anything. There was no emotion in what she said. She just gave the facts of what happened.”

Huntsman’s estranged husband, Darren West, served more than eight years in federal prison after pleading guilty to meth charges, the Associated Press reported. He was released this year to a halfway house in Salt Lake City and, a few months later, made the discovery while retrieving his belongings from their garage.

On April 12, West found a newborn’s remains wrapped in plastic bags and a green towel and stuffed into a small white box sealed with electrical tape. The box was labeled “Baby Stuff — Megan’s,” according to a search warrant.

“Upon inspection of the inside of the box, a large amount of plastic wrap and bagging components were discovered. [West] stated he looked inside the bags and discovered the deceased body of a small infant child,” the warrant stated.

The following search was gruesome, leading investigators to seven dead babies. Among other evidence: white leather gloves stained with blood, towels, shirts, a sweater that was wrapped around a newborn body, garbage bags, blankets and pieces of the master bedroom mattress covered in unknown stains, according to the warrant.

“Megan said she lost a lot of blood while giving birth to one of the above mentioned seven deceased babies,” the warrant stated. “Megan said this birth occurred on her bedroom mattress and Megan identified the mattress seized from the residence as being the mattress she gave birth on.”

DNA results released Tuesday revealed that the seven babies were full-term, that five were girls and two were boys, and that West was the biological father of all of them.

Roberts said that though West lived with Huntsman during the time of the births before he went to federal prison in 2006, he is not considered a suspect in the case.

Investigators are still unsure how he never found out about Huntsman’s pregnancies — but the same thing allegedly happened with two of Huntsman’s three living daughters, who are now in their teens and 20s.

“He wasn’t aware of those until the day she was at the hospital giving birth,” Roberts told the Deseret News. “It’s definitely a shocker, but we can’t explain it at this point.”

Huntsman has been held in Utah County Jail since April 13 on $6 million bail.

She will not face the death penalty because under state law at the time of the alleged killings, murder of a child under 14 was not listed as the sort of aggravated killing that qualified for capital punishment. It is now.

Instead, Huntsman faces a maximum penalty of five years to life for each count, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Lindsey Bever is a national news reporter for The Washington Post. She writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet her: @lindseybever
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