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Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

Mother's alleged meth use a possible factor in deaths of newborns, police say

By Emilee Bench, Deseret News

Published: Tue, July 8 4:35 p.m. MDT

 Pleasant Grove police investigate the scene where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove on Sunday, April 13, 2014. Over a 10-year period, police say Megan Huntsman, 39, gave birth to the infants and then killed six of them them.

Pleasant Grove police investigate the scene where seven infant bodies were discovered and packaged in separate containers at a home in Pleasant Grove on Sunday, April 13, 2014. Over a 10-year period, police say Megan Huntsman, 39, gave birth to the infants and then killed six of them them.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PLEASANT GROVE — Police say meth use is a possible reason a Utah County mother allegedly killed six newborn babies over 10 years.

Pleasant Grove Police Capt. Mike Roberts said Megan Huntsman chose drugs over the children whose bodies were discovered in a Pleasant Grove home in April. A seventh baby, allegedly stillborn, was also found in the home.

"During her statement, (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, and she couldn't afford the babies and the drugs both, so she had to choose one or the other," Roberts said.

Huntsman was "very honest and straightforward" during interviews with police, Roberts said.

"There wasn't a lot of remorse," he said. "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."

DNA results show that two of the infants born to Huntsman in the late 1990s and early 2000s were male and five were female, police said.

Roberts said the nuclear DNA testing that came back from an FBI lab in Virginia also confirmed that Huntsman's ex-husband, Darren West, is the father of all seven children.

"This is consistent with the statements we received from Megan, and it kind of just put our story together, what we believe happened," Roberts said.

The case is still an active investigation, he said.

"There's still a couple of leads that we're following up on, waiting for some other testing to come back through that we haven't received yet," Roberts said.

The seven dead children were found while West was cleaning out the garage of the home had shared with Huntsman. She was arrested and faces six counts of murder. She claims one of the babies was stillborn.

Because of the nature of the decomposed bodies, autopsies and traditional DNA testing were inconclusive to the gender.

The nuclear DNA testing is a very intensive process, and Roberts said only a few labs in the country are capable to do the tests.

There is still concern that West was unaware of the children and pregnancies.

"It happened with her first two babies," Roberts said of two of the couple's three living children. "He wasn't aware of those until the day she was at the hospital giving birth. It's definitely a shocker, but we can't explain it at this point."

All parties are cooperating at this point, police said. Roberts said Huntsman is undergoing competency exams that will likely impact her case. She is expected back in court on July 21.

Contributing: Sam Penrod

Email: eeagar@deseretnews.com

Recommended
1. K
Mchenry, IL,
July 8, 2014

It took months to disclose this motive?

2. midvale guy
MIDVALE, UT,
July 9, 2014

I don't find this development very surprising. I originally thought she was high on methamphetamine when her mug shot was taken and placed in the media. I find it very hard to believe that her husband would be unaware of any of the seven pregnancies but drug addicts and alcoholics are very good liars. It is part of what we do when we are in full swing of our addiction. this should definitely be a capital murder case. I don't see how a community would be able to just let this one go.

3. Mormonmama0106
Phoenix, AZ,
July 9, 2014

If she was heavy, she could have hidden her pregnancies, even from her husband. I've had a few pregnant friends over the years who were heavy enough that you couldn't tell by looking at them.

This whole situation is just horribly sad. It shows you what drugs can do to someone. It just sickens me. Those poor babies were murdered by the one person who was supposed to protect them the most.

4. caf
Bountiful, UT,
July 10, 2014

I am pro-life. However, why are women who kill newborns so horrible compared with women who kill pre-newborns? I think there is a double standard in this. Not very many abortions occur because the mother could die in childbirth but a whole lot of them occur because the pregnancies are unwanted, for varying reasons. This woman likely could not get her drug fix if she paid for abortions. Instead of paying a doctor to take the lives of the babies, she had to do the job herself after the children were born.