A Utah woman who pleaded guilty to killing six of her newborn children in the past decade was handed a possible life sentence Monday. Megan Huntsman, 40, who has three living children, said she couldn’t take care of any more due to her addiction to methamphetamine and so would strangled or smother the infants shortly after giving birth, the Associated Press reported.
Afraid of getting caught with the bodies, she would wrap each in cloth and plastic bags before storing them in boxes in her garage. Police later found the babies as well as the body of a seventh that reportedly was stillborn. The six murders took place from 1996 to 2006. Family members had been unaware she was pregnant.
When asked why her three oldest children did not receive the same treatment, she confessed her friends and family were aware of those pregnancies, making it impossible to kill the children. Two of the children were born prior to Huntsman's drug addiction, AP said.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported defense attorney Anthony Howell said police would not have had a case against Huntsman if she hadn’t confessed. Although her hope is to take responsibility for her actions, police were already on her trail before the confession. Things started to unravel when her estranged husband and father to her three living children, Darren West, 41, was released from prison after serving an eight-year sentence for drug crimes. While residing in a Salt Lake City halfway house, he went to Huntsman's Pleasant Grove home to collect some of his belongings. While in the garage, he discovered one of the bodies and contacted police.
Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman agreed to let prosecutors write a letter to the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole informing them of Huntsman’s cooperation in the investigation. The hope was to have Huntsman serve her six terms concurrently, but the judge didn't deem that appropriate and instead imposed three of the terms consecutively, the Tribune reported. Huntsman will spend at least 15 years to life in prison as a result.
The parole board will eventually decide her release date. However, the AP quotes Buhman as saying he'd be shocked if she didn't end up spending the rest of her life in jail.
Update (9:05 p.m. EDT): This story has been updated with information about Huntsman's sentencing.