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Germany

German Police Find Dead Babies in Freezer

Police have arrested a woman after the bodies of three babies were found in a freezer in a house in north-west Germany. The woman's 18-year-old son is reported to have made the grisly find.

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Police search the house in western Germany where the dead babies were found

The case in Wenden, some 100 kilometres east of Bonn, comes amid a recent string of infanticides in Germany.

Police said they would know at the earliest by Tuesday, May 6, how the babies had died. Autopsies can only be performed once the bodies have been thawed. Herbert Fingerhut, head of Hagen's murder squad, said that murder could not be ruled out at this stage.

Prosecutors said the babies appeared to have been alive at the time of their birth at the end of the 1980s. They were found wrapped in plastic bags in a basement freezer.

The woman detained in Wenden is 44 years old and has three grown-up children, aged between 18 and 24. She is married to a 47-year-old electrician. Police said she had spoken in "snatches" about what had happened. She is currently under psychiatric supervision.

Family never noticed woman was pregnant

Sabine Hilschenz

Sabine Hilschenz was sentenced to 15 years for manslaughter after allowing eight babies to die

Family members said the woman had successfully concealed the pregnancies from them. A neighbor speculated that no one had noticed anything because of her obesity.

The family has lived in the town for many years and is said to be well-integrated. The spokesman of the Hagen murder squad described the family as a "completely normal, middle-class family."

The mayor of Wenden Peter Brueser said it was the worst day that he had experienced since taking office 14 years ago. "You keep on reading about things like this happening in the world. But it was always far away. Now it has happened in the midst of our community," he said.

Germany has been shaken by a slew of infanticide cases in recent years. Most have taken place in poorer eastern German regions, leading some to speculate about a collapse of morality in what was once communist East Germany. Last month, a court upheld a 15-year jail term for a mother in Brieskow-Finkenheerd in Brandenburg who let eight of her babies die and buried them in flower pots.

In April 2007, a 15-year-old boy discovered two babies in his mother's freezer in Erfurt. The 35-year-old admitted packing the babies in trash bags and putting them in the deep freeze. She was sentenced to 12 years in jail on two counts of manslaughter.

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