New Case of Infanticide: Three Dead Babies Found in Freezer in Germany
The corpses of three babies have been found in a freezer in the cellar of a family home in western Germany. The mother has been arrested. It's the latest in a series of infanticide cases in the country, and is likely to prompt questions about how the killings went unnoticed by neighbors and authorities.
A police officer cordoning off the house where three dead babies were found.
The babies are believed to have been alive when they were born, police said. Police said they had received a tip-off on Sunday evening and had searched the house in the town of Wenden-Möllmicke where the woman lives with her husband and three other children aged 18 to 24.
A spokesman for the prosecutor's office in the town of Siegen said the mother had been arrested. She was not at present fit to be interviewed but the crime had been "basically solved," the spokesman said.
Police said the family had been "inconspicuous."
A local newspaper reported that the 18-year-old son had found the babies when he went into the cellar to get something to eat from the freezer. He then went to the police with his parents.
"We're currently interviewing neighbors and investigating the family environment," Matthias Giese of the Olpen police told SPIEGEL ONLINE.
He said the babies' corpses had to thaw before a forensic investigation could be undertaken and that police weren't yet able to ascertain when the infants were born.
The case is likely to spark questions about whether and how the disappearance of the babies went unnoticed by neighbors and by authorities -- similar questions now being faced by Austrian authorities investigating how Josef Fritzl managed to keep his daughter locked in a cellar prison for 24 years during which he raped her and had seven children by her, three of whom were incarcerated with the woman.
Barely a month goes by in Germany without media reports of infanticide. One of the most shocking cases was that of Sabine Hilschinz, 42, from the eastern city of Frankfurt an der Oder, who is now serving 15 years in prison for killing eight of her babies and concealing some of them in flower pots.
The latest case came to light in western Germany, but many child killings have happened in the formerly communist east, prompting one politician to sugest recently that infanticide may be the legacy of East Germany's communist rule.
Wolfgang Böhmer, governor of the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt, faced opposition calls to resign after he said women in the east had "a more casual approach to new life" than in the west.
Böhmer, who trained as a gynaecologist, was responding to research showing that the risk of a baby being killed by its mother is three to four times higher in the east than it is in the west of Germany.
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