Trial underway in case of French woman charged with strangling 8 newborns

Several of the bodies kept in the bedroom

By Dave Andrusko

Dominique Cottrez

Dominique Cottrez (R) in discussion with her lawyers Franck Berton (2nd R) and Marie-Helene Carlier (C) (AFP)

The resemblance to Megan Huntsman is overwhelming, ghastly, and terribly sad.

Huntsman, the mother of two living children, murdered six newborns over a ten-year span and is serving a life sentence.

The headline in today’s Daily Telegraph reports on “France’s ‘worst ever’ infanticide trial opens as mother admits to killing 8 newborns.”

Dominique Cottrez is also the mother of two living children.

Huntsman hid her babies’ bodies in the garage. Cottrez, facing charges of first and second-degree murder of minors, is charged with “hiding their bodies in plastic bags around the house, including two in the bedroom she shared with her unsuspecting husband,” according to reporter Henry Samuel.

And like Huntsman’s husband, Cottrez’s husband also said he knew nothing about the murders.

Samuel wrote that Cottrez

said she killed the newborns over an 11-year period from 1989 to 2000 as an act of “belated contraception” because she feared they were the product of her incestuous relationship with her father [who died in 2007].

She faces life in prison if found guilty by a jury in the northern city of Douai.

Huntsman’s murdered newborns were discovered when her estranged husband and one of their daughters cleared out the garage.

The bodies of Cottrez’s eight newborns, whom she suffocated with her bare hands, were discovered in 2010. The new owner of her old home was digging in the back garden when “he unearthed two tiny corpses,” Samuel reported. He was scheduled to be among the first witnesses to testify.

Cottrez, who is very heavy, was able to hide her pregnancies. But how could she smother all these babies without her husband suspecting something? The explanations go from the incredible to the bizarre.

Samuel reports

Cottrez said she managed to give birth onto sheets in the bathroom while her husband was away on business, and strangled the newborns. She put them in plastic bags in various locations including a laundry basket, cupboards and the garage.

She even kept several in the bedroom she shared with her husband, aerating the room often, apparently without her husband or her two adult daughters suspecting anything untoward. They are not facing charges.

“As long as she prepared her husband’s meals, it was sufficient. It’s a terrible thing to say but she was a good mother,” said Yves Crespin, lawyer for de child protection charity, L’Enfant bleu-Enfance maltraitée, a civil plaintiff.

The trial is not expected to be a lengthy one. Samuel speculated it could be concluded by Thursday.