Police seek answers after 7 dead babies found

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This photo provided by the Utah County jail shows Megan Huntsman, who was booked into the Utah County jail on suspicion of killing six of her newborn children over the past decade. Seven dead babies were found in a garage at a Pleasant Grove home where Huntsman lived up until 2011. (AP Photo/Utah County Jail) Courtesy Utah County Jail

This photo provided by the Utah County jail shows Megan Huntsman, who was booked into the Utah County jail on suspicion of killing six of her newborn children over the past decade. Seven dead babies were found in a garage at a Pleasant Grove home where Huntsman lived up until 2011. (AP Photo/Utah County Jail) Courtesy Utah County Jail

Authorities investigate a crime scene at a house in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Mark Johnston)

Authorities investigate a crime scene at a house in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Mark Johnston)

Authorities investigate a crime scene at a house in Pleasant Grove Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Mark Johnston)

Authorities investigate a crime scene at a house in Pleasant Grove Utah, Sunday, April 13, 2014. According to the Pleasant Grove Police Department, seven dead infants were found in the former home of Megan Huntsman, 39. Huntsman was booked into jail on six counts of murder. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Mark Johnston)

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PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (AP) — The discovery of seven dead babies in cardboard boxes in a Utah garage has police desperately seeking answers from the mother and other family members about how such a tragedy unfolded over a decade with no one noticing.

Megan Huntsman, 39, is accused of killing her babies after giving birth to the children between 1996 and 2006, investigators said. She was booked Sunday into the Utah County Jailwith six counts of murder. It wasn’t immediately clear if Huntsman has an attorney or why there were six counts and not seven.

The gruesome case has raised a series of questions about how the killings occurred despite Huntsman carrying out what neighbors seemed like a normal existence. Police declined to comment on a motive and what Huntsman said during an interview with investigators.

Her estranged husband made the discovery while cleaning out the garage after recently getting out of prison, and authorities do not believe he was aware of the killings and he isn’t a person of interest at this time.

Police Capt. Michael Roberts said officers responded to a call from him Saturday about a dead infant, and then they found the six other bodies.

Family and neighbors identified the estranged husband as Darren West, who has been in prison on drug-related charges.

Roberts said police believe West and Huntsman were together when the babies were born.

“We don’t believe he had any knowledge of the situation,” Roberts told The Associated Press

Asked how the man could not have known about the situation, Roberts replied, “That’s the million-dollar question. Amazing.”

The babies’ bodies were sent to the Utah medical examiner’s office for tests, including one to determine the cause of death. DNA samples taken from the suspect and her husband will determine definitively whether the two are the parents, as investigators believe.

Huntsman also has three daughters — one teenager and two young adults — who lived at the house.

Neighbors in the middle-class neighborhood of mostly older homes 35 miles south of Salt Lake City say they were shocked by the accusations and perplexed that the woman’s older children still living in the home didn’t know their mother was pregnant or notice anything suspicious.

Police say West made the grisly discovery at the house owned by his parents in a city of about 35,000 people at the foot of snow-capped mountains. It’s a nondescript, newer home with a brick facade and a star ornament hanging by the door.

Several police cars blocked the entrance to the house Sunday evening as officers milled about with the belongings from the garage strewn across the front lawn.

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.

West pleaded guilty in federal court in 2005 to two counts of possessing chemicals intended to be used in manufacturing methamphetamine, court records show. In August 2006, he was sentenced to nine years in prison, but appealed the term three times. He maintained his innocence and said he never had any intention to manufacture meth. It’s unclear when he was released.

West’s sister Sarah Wright wrote to federal district court in 2006, saying West is a good father to his three daughters. She said he worked at an excavation company for 11 years and is an avid outdoorsman who likes to fish and camp.

“Darren is such an awesome dad,” she wrote.

Neighbors told the AP they were shocked and horrified by the accusations of what went on inside the home. None of them even knew Huntsman was pregnant in recent years.

The family members seemed like nice people and good neighbors, said Aaron and Kathie Hawker, who live next door.

Huntsman moved out several years ago, leaving her three daughters, one teenager and two young adults, to live alone, the Hawkers said. They weren’t sure where

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