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20 Apr 2014
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Neighbors never suspected there were seven dead babies in her garage
April 14 at 5:13 am
She was a good neighbor. She was a friendly person. And she babysat for their grandchildren.
Folks in Pleasant Grove, Utah, say they knew her pretty well. But somehow they didn’t know her well enough, they say, to notice how often she got pregnant — seven times in recent years. This weekend they found out, in the most gruesome way imaginable.
The suspect’s estranged husband, who has been identified by family and neighbors as Darren West, found seven infant bodies in cardboard boxes while cleaning out the garage on Saturday as he was getting ready to move back into the house this summer. He recently got out of prison on drug-related charges, police said.
Now, Megan Huntsman, 39, is accused of killing her babies after giving birth to them between 1996 and 2006, investigators said. She was booked on Sunday into the Utah County Jail on six counts of murder. It wasn’t clear why there were six counts and not seven, The Associated Press reported.
Neighbors said police cars blocked the entrance to the house Sunday evening as they went through belongings taken from the garage that were strewn across the lawn.
Pleasant Grove is known as “Utah’s City of Trees” — a middle-class neighborhood with mostly older homes nestled some 30 miles south of Salt Lake City. It’s a community where little seemed amiss, neighbors said, until this.
Neighbors told reporters that Huntsman used to babysit for their grandchildren. They said that her three daughters — one teenager and two young adults — were normal girls, and that Huntsman and West were friendly people.
“It makes us so sad, we want to cry,” longtime neighbor Kathie Hawker told the AP. “We enjoyed having them as a neighbor. This has just blown us away.”
Hawker told KUTV that she and her husband, Aaron, had been Huntsman’s neighbors for about 15 years, and that she “was a good neighbor, as far as we knew.”
Aaron Hawker added, “I’ve had a few shocks in my life, but this one was a huge one.”
They were also stunned, they said, that Huntsman had been pregnant in recent years.
Neighbor Sharon Chipman, who let Huntsman babysit for her grandson for years, told The Salt Lake Tribune that she had noticed Huntsman had gained and lost some weight throughout the years, but she never considered that Huntsman might be pregnant. “This really shocks me,” she said.
Fred Newman, a neighbor whose cousin is the West’s mother, told the AP he has cleaned their driveway with his snow-blower and the girls thanked him.
“What’s shocking is the three older ones living there and not noticing that their mother was pregnant,” Newman said.
Huntsman moved out of the home several years ago, leaving her three daughters to live alone, the Hawkers said. They aren’t sure where she’s been living.
Another shocker: Police do not believe West was aware of the killings.
“We don’t believe he had any knowledge of the situation,” Pleasant Grove Police Capt. Michael Roberts told the AP.
Asked how the man could not have known about the situation, Roberts replied, “That’s the million-dollar question. Amazing.”
Lindsey Bever is a national reporter for The Washington Post. Tweet her: @lindseybever
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