Police investigating the suspected worst case of infanticide in German postwar history said they were searching Wednesday for further possible remains, days after the discovery of nine dead newborns.
The shed where the skeletal remains of the nine babies were found
Officers with sniffer dogs were combing the property in the eastern town of Brieskow-Finkenheerd in the state of Brandenburg -- where the tiny bones of the nine infants were unearthed Sunday -- as well as former apartments of their mother, who has been charged in their deaths.
Blick auf das Wohnhaus neben dessen Doppelgarage die Leichen von neun Neugeborenen entdeckt worden sind, auf einem Grundstueck in Brieskow-Finkenheerd bei Frankfurt an der Oder in Brandenburg, am Montag, 1. August 2005. Die Leichen seien am Sonntag, 31. Juli, gefunden worden. Die Kinder seien vermutlich zwischen 1988 und 2004 geboren und unmittelbar nach der Geburt getoetet worden, erklaerte ein Polizeisprecher. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber) Outside view of a house in Brieskow-Finkenheerd, south of Frankfurt-Oder in the German state Brandenburg where Police discovered the remains of nine newborn babies buried in the garden near the garage and arrested a woman believed to be the children's mother, prosecutors said Monday Aug. 1, 2005. The bodies were found Sunday in Brieskow-Finkenheerd, a village near the Polish border, after police received a tip-off, said Michael Neff, a spokesman for prosecutors in nearby Frankfurt an der Oder. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A police spokesman in the city of Frankfurt an der Oder on the Polish border, where the 39-year-old suspect identified as Sabine H. lived, said they were focusing in particular on an apartment in the nearby city of Eisenhüttenstadt. He said the aim of the new searches was to rule out other victims.
The public prosecutor's office said the 39-year-old mother was still being questioned after telling investigators she had only hazy memories of giving birth to the children while heavily intoxicated between 1988 and 1999 and leaving at least one to die under a blanket.
Sabine H. said she stored the corpses in flower boxes and pots on her balcony before depositing them in a family shed. She said that all the children were fathered by her estranged husband, whom she finally divorced in May.
Pathologists were still trying to determine the infants' cause of death. Authorities had initially said the births had taken place over a 16-year period but new findings from the mothers' interrogation revealed a nearly unbroken cycle of pregnancies and deaths. Investigators were also speaking with friends and relatives of the suspect, who is also the mother of four living children.
An acquaintance discovered small human bones in an old aquarium Sunday after being asked to clear out a shed belonging to the family. He alerted police, who then uncovered the remains of eight other babies hidden in flower boxes and pots in the shed and in buckets buried under sand and earth.
Comments on crime rile East German politicians
Brandenburg state Interior Minister Jörg Schönbohm blamed the legacy of communist East Germany and a "forced proletarianization," saying it had broken down societal structures leading citizens to turn a blind eye to violence and suffering.
"This unbelievable indifference is what strikes me the most," Schönbohm said in an interview in Wednesday's Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel. "I cannot understand how no one saw that this woman was in a critical situation and needed help. What were the parents doing, the neighbors?"
The remarks met with criticism by some eastern German politicians, with Eckhardt Rehberg in the neighboring state of Mecklenburg-Western Pommerania warning against a "one-sided judgment against the actions of an entire population".
The chairman of the new Left Party, Lothar Bisky, said such comments reflected outdated Cold War rhetoric and noted West Germany also had its share of serious crimes.