(USA TODAY) A Utah woman admitted to police that she strangled or suffocated at least six of her newborns, stuffed the bodies into cardboard boxes and hid them in the garage of her home, according to court documents released on Monday.
Megan Huntsman, 39, was arraigned Monday on six charges of murder and ordered held on $6 million bond.
When asked by Judge Steven Hansen what she thought of the size of the bail, Huntsman, speaking via closed circuit TV from the Utah County jail, stared blankly and responded, "That's fine."
Huntsman was arrested Sunday after police discovered the remains of the infants at a house in Pleasant Grove, Utah, where she lived until 2011.
Police said Huntsman told officers that she had given birth to at least seven babies at the house and that all but one were born alive.
According to the arrest document, Huntsman told officers that "she either strangled or suffocated the babies immediately after they were born."
The arrest warrant released Monday said police found each of the dead infants wrapped in either a towel or a shirt, placed inside a plastic bag then put into a separate cardboard box.
The bodies were discovered by police after Huntsman's estranged husband, Darren West, found the body of one newborn in a garage of the house that he was cleaning out. He first contacted Huntsman then called police.
Aaron Hawker, a neighbor in the town of 35,000 located 35 miles south of Salt Lake City, tells the Provo Daily Herald that West, who had been in prison on drug-related charges, was getting ready to move back into the house, which was divided into apartments for two families.
Hawker told the newspaper that he did not consider Huntsman to be a murderer.
"Personally speaking I think Megan was scared to death to have anybody find out," he said. "Fear can really motivate you."
Authorities say they believe West was living with Huntsman at the time of the killings, but isn't a person of interest at this time.
"We don't believe he had any knowledge of the situation," Capt. Michael Roberts, Pleasant Grove police spokesman, told The Associated Press.
Asked how West could not have known about the situation, Roberts replied, "That's the million-dollar question. Amazing."
DNA tests on the remains will be compared to samples taken from Huntsman and West to determine whether they are the parents of the seven infants.
Another neighbor, Sharon Chipman, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the couple's three daughters were living in the house. The eldest, she said, were around 18 to 20 years old, while the youngest is about 13.
"He (West) was finally coming down to help take care of his family — and to run across that, It would devastate him," Chipman said.
Neighbors said they were shocked not only by the news of the killings, but also simply that Huntsman could have been pregnant and gone unnoticed.
"None of us ever thought she was pregnant. She was always so skinny and there were six full-term pregnancies," Hawker told the Daily Herald.
Kathie Hawker, Aaron's wife, said Huntsman baby-sat the Hawker grandchildren years ago and they were friendly with each other.
"It makes us so sad, we want to cry," Kathie Hawker said. "We enjoyed having them as a neighbor. This has just blown us away."
Late Sunday, West's family issued a statement saying they were 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.
Fred Newman, a neighbor whose cousin is the husband's mother, said he's perplexed how the three oldest daughters living there didn't know about what police say was going on. He said the girls didn't always park their cars in the garage, but did sometimes in the cold winter months.
"What's shocking is the three older ones living there and not noticing that their mother was pregnant," Newman said.
He said he has used his snowblower to clean off the driveway of the home and the young women would thank him.
The girls were normal youngsters, coming and going often, neighbor Vickie Nelson said.
Contributing: Associated Press
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