Three dead babies found in freezer in Germany

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - A 44-year-old woman has been taken into custody in Germany on suspicion of killing three of her babies and storing their corpses in the family freezer for up to two decades, authorities said on Monday.

Two of the woman’s three grown children stumbled upon a plastic bag containing one of the bodies while searching for a pizza in the deep freezer on Saturday and confronted their parents, prompting the woman to turn herself in to police.

Investigators later searched the home in Wenden-Moellmicke, east of Cologne, and found two other bags containing the bodies of babies. A newspaper dated December 1988 was found with one, suggesting they may have sat in the freezer for almost 20 years, police said.

Investigator Martin Feldmann said the woman was “in severe shock” and felt “very guilty”. Local authorities, who have opened an investigation, said there were no signs that the woman’s 47-year old husband had known anything about the deaths.

The case is the latest in a wave of infanticides in Germany, many of them by mothers from poor eastern regions, which has shocked the country and spurred a political debate.

In one particularly gruesome case, a woman in the eastern town of Brieskow-Finkenheerd was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing eight of her babies and burying some of them in flower pots, buckets and fish tanks on her property.

In an attempt to save lives, some clinics in Germany have installed hatches where desperate mothers can leave unwanted babies anonymously.

In March, police in France detained a French couple after the body of a newborn baby was found in their freezer, the fourth such case of apparent infanticide to come to light in France in the past two years.

Reporting by Matthias Inverardi, writing by Noah Barkin and Paul Carrel; Editing by Jon Boyle