Pleasant Grove, Utah, April 13, 2014: Darren West began cleaning out the garage at the home he once shared with his wife, Megan Huntsman. Nothing could have prepared him for what he would uncover.
Inside a small, white box, wrapped in plastic, was the tiny, decaying body of an infant.
West immediately called the police. They searched the home and found six more dead infants, all in boxes, stashed away in the garage.
After questioning, Huntsman admitted to killing the infants between 1996 and 2006 (one was stillborn, as confirmed at autopsy). She was heavily addicted to meth and alcohol at the time, and said she killed them because she couldn’t afford to raise them. Apparently bearing, birthing, and killing multiple children was easier than using birth control.
Yet Huntsman did it again and again — so many times, in fact, she lost count. Once she even gave birth in the bathroom while West, his brother and sister-in-law were in the living room watching TV.
After giving birth, she would take the newborns in her hands, then press on their necks with her thumbs until they died. Then she would swaddle them in towels or sweaters, wrap them in plastic garbage bags, and pack them into cardboard boxes. The boxes, she would squirrel away amongst the Christmas ornaments, clothes, and old toys in the couple’s garage.
Meanwhile, West claimed to have had no idea what was going on. He admitted to knowing about “a couple” of the pregnancies, but that Huntsman told him she had miscarriages. “I knew she was pregnant, but I was so messed up on freaking drugs, I don’t know what was going on,” West said. Indeed, he found the first body after serving a nine-year prison sentence for meth.
While it may strain the imagination to believe a husband would be so high that he wouldn’t notice his wife’s pregnancies or births, it’s not impossible. Women have done this before. Huntsman was what’s called a “concealer” — a woman who hides or denies her pregnancy and then seeks to dispose of the baby after it’s born — according to Cheryl Meyer, a psychology professor at Ohio’s Wright State University. Typically, Meyer said, concealers are teens who are afraid of parents finding out, not grown women with access to birth control and abortion services. For a woman to do so multiple times is exceedingly rare (source: CBC News).
In 1969, Philipp Resnick, psychiatry professor at Case Western Reserve University, termed this kind of killing multiple neonaticide — meaning the killing of a child in its first 24 hours of life. He confirms that multiple neonaticides are very rare, especially among married women.
On Feb. 12, 2015, she pled guilty to six counts of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to six terms of five years to life, three to be served consecutively and three to be served concurrently.
Megan Huntsman killed her newborn children for the oldest, and cruelest, of reasons: she simply didn’t want another mouth to feed. It was also needless, considering Utah is a “safe haven” state, where a parent can surrender a child into state custody with no questions asked. Now, it is Huntsman who will remain in the custody of the state, until at least 2064.