PROVO -- A Utah mother accused of killing six infants just moments after they were born has been charged with six counts of murder.
The first-degree felony charges were filed Monday morning against Megan Huntsman in Fourth District Court.
The 39-year-old is being held on a $6 million cash-only bail. She was arrested April 12 after her estranged husband, Darren West, discovered the body of one baby while cleaning out the garage of a home near 500 East and 200 North in Pleasant Grove. Police were called to the scene and found six more bodies.
Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman said Monday the Utah murder statute has changed since the crimes were committed, meaning they aren't eligible to be filed as aggravated murder. He said Huntsman could face five years to life on each charge, the punishment that was in place for first-degree felonies committed between 1996 and 2006.
Buhman said investigators have received a preliminary report from the state medical examiner, but said it will take time for DNA test results to come back that will identify the father and show the babies' gender.
Police continue to say they know what Huntsman's motive was for killing the infants, but they aren't yet ready to release that information to the public.
The charges list Jan. 1, 1996 as the offense date for all six counts of murder. Det. Dan Beckstrom of the Pleasant Grove Police Department said that date is likely when everything began and the best information investigators have to go on right now.
Buhman said he is unsure if the medical examiner and forensic anthropologist will ever be able to tell exact dates of births for each of the babies.
During an interview with Pleasant Grove police, Huntsman admitted to giving birth to at least seven newborns at the home and allegedly told police she either strangled or suffocated the babies immediately after they were born and stored them in cardboard boxes in the garage. Police reports also said Huntsman told investigators all but one of the seven babies were born alive, while one was stillborn.
Police reports state that upon his discovery of the first body, West called Huntsman, and she admitted the baby was hers and said she had put it in a box after it was stillborn in 2006. Police believe Huntsman gave birth to the infants between 1996 and 2006, and said evidence suggests the babies were strangled or suffocated. According to police reports, each baby was found wrapped in either a towel or a shirt, placed inside a plastic bag and then placed inside a cardboard box. Each baby was found in a separate cardboard box.
Police said Huntsman lived in the home for more than 10 years before she moved to West Valley City in 2011.
Huntsman will be in court again May 19 for a waiver hearing.