Eight newborn babies found dead in France
Latest infanticide case shocks France as parents are described as model citizens
France is in shock this morning, coming to terms with what appears to be the country's worst case of infanticide. For a nation that prides itself on the strength of its familial bonds, France is at a loss to explain how two parents could have killed eight newborn babies.
Police were first called to a property in Villers-au-Tertre, near the northern city of Lille, on Saturday after the new owners of the house discovered tiny human bones in the garden. Two bodies were unearthed and police inquiries established that the house originally belonged to an elderly couple whose 40-something daughter lived half a mile away.
When police sniffer dogs searched the garden of the house the woman shares with her husband, six more bodies of newborn infants were discovered. "I'm still in shock," said Daniel Collignon, the former mayor of the village, as prosecutors prepare to launch a criminal inquiry into the gruesome discovery.
According to locals, the revelations are all the more startling because the couple were respected members of the community. They are 45-year-old Dominique Cottrez, a nursing assistant, and husband Pierre-Marie Cottrez, a 47-year-old builder. She was charged today with murder and he was charged with concealing the corpses.
One neighbour described them as "attractive, helpful, polite and courteous people... they had done nothing to suggest that they might be capable of abnormal behaviour". They have lived in the 700-strong village of Villers-au-Tertre since the mid-1990s and Pierre-Marie is a member of the village council. They are reported to have two grown-up daughters and an unspecified number of grandchildren.
According to French radio, before Dominique was charged today she had confessed to police that she had killed "a dozen" babies since 1988, all without her husband's knowledge, using her nursing skills to deliver the babies in secret.
France has been blighted in recent years by infanticide scandals with the most recent case being that of Celine Lesage, who earlier this year was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing six newborn babies between 2000 and 2007. Last year 41-year-old Veronique Courjault was jailed for eight years after being convicted of killing three of her babies, two of whom were found in a freezer. ·
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