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Monday, February 16, 2015

The Megan Huntsman Serial Murder Case

     In 1996, 21-year-old Megan Huntsman resided with her husband Darren West and their two daughters (they would later have a third girl) in a middle-class neighborhood in Pleasant Grove, Utah, a town 35 miles south of Salt Lake City. In 2005, Darren, an avid outdoorsman and employee of an excavating company, pleaded guilty in federal court to the possession of chemicals intended to be used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. In August 2006, the judge sentenced West to nine years in federal prison. (Although he pleaded guilty, West has maintained his innocence.)

     In 2011, with her now ex-husband behind bars, Megan Huntsman moved from Pleasant Grove to West Valley, Utah. Her three daughters remained in the ranch style house owned by Darren West's parents. The daughters occupied one of the two apartments in the dwelling.

     On April 12, 2014, not long after his release from prison, Darren West and members of his family, in anticipation of renting out one of the apartments in the Pleasant Grove house, were cleaning out the garage. Inside a tape-sealed cardboard box that gave off an "pungent order," Mr. West discovered the remains of an infant. He called his ex-wife, then notified the Pleasant Grove Police Department.

     After law enforcement authorities sent the infant's remains to the medical examiner's office, a judge authorized a search of the Pleasant Grove dwelling. Officers executing the warrant discovered, in more boxes in the garage, the skeletal remains of six more babies.

     On April 13, 2014, police officers arrested Megan Huntsman as a suspect in the deaths of the infants. At the police station, she admitted suffocating or strangling six of her babies immediately after giving birth. The seventh child, she said, had come out stillborn. Huntsman told detectives the babies were born between 1996 and 2006. The suspect said she had been too addicted to methamphetamine to raise any more children.

     That evening, police officers booked the 39-year-old serial murder suspect into the Utah County Jail on six counts of criminal homicide. The Provo, Utah judge set Huntsman's bail at $6 million, $1 million for each infant.

     Although Darren West resided with Huntsman from 1996 to August 2006, he said he had no idea she had been pregnant with these children.

     On February 12, 2015, Megan Huntsman pleaded guilty to six counts of murder. Each count carried a sentence of five years to life in prison. The prosecutor who arranged the plea agreement told reporters that Huntsman will probably spend the rest of her life behind bars. She will be sentenced on April 20, 2015. 

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