French mother admits murdering eight babies
Thursday, 29 July 2010 14:14
A mother has admitted killing eight of her newborn babies in the northern French village of Villers-au-Tertre.
Dominique Cottrez, a 45-year-old nursing assistant, was charged with the murder of the babies after the discovery of the bodies at two houses in the village, which is near the city of Lille.
Mrs Cottrez has admitted suffocating the infants and insisted her husband knew nothing about the pregnancies or the deaths. She faces a life sentence.
Local chief prosecutor Eric Vaillant said Mrs Cottrez had admitted to killing the babies because 'she did not want any more children and did not want to see a doctor to get contraception'.
Her husband Pierre-Marie Cottrez has been freed without charge. He has denied any knowledge of the deaths.
It is understood the new owners of one of the houses called the police last Saturday after finding bones while working in the garden.
The residence had previously belonged to the parents of Mrs Cottrez.
Search teams then headed on to the couple's home in another part of the village, where six more remains were found.
Local residents said the couple had lived in the village for 15 years and had two grown-up daughters who have children themselves.
Neighbours in shock
Mr Cottrez worked as a carpenter and was a respected member of the council in Villers-au-Tertre.
'He's on his third term in office. He used to volunteer in the community. He's a respectable man,' said mayor Patrick Mercier.
Mr Mercier said the the woman was a more withdrawn person who rarely took part in village life.
He said she had a weight problem, which might be the reason why any pregnancies had passed unnoticed.
'I'm still in shock,' the former mayor of the village, Daniel Collignon, told AFP, describing the village as a very calm and rural place.
Neighbours also reacted with astonishment to the news.
'They are normal people, who even have a role in the community,' said one neighbour. 'It's incredible.'
Another neighbour, a man in his 50s, said: 'These are attractive, helpful, polite and courteous people.'
'They had done nothing to suggest that they might be capable of abnormal behaviour,' he said.