SIEGEN, Germany – A German woman told a court on the opening day of her trial Tuesday that she stashed the bodies of her three infant girls in her freezer because she wanted them to remain near to her.
Monika Halbe, 44, did not enter a plea at Siegen state court to charges of manslaughter — as per usual under the German system — and did not say whether she had killed the children.
The bodies were found in the freezer in May at the family's home in the town of Wenden, in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The discovery was made by Halbe's 18-year-old son, one of her three grown children, as he looked for a frozen pizza while his parents were away for the weekend.
Halbe is charged with manslaughter in the death of two of the infants — one born in 1988 and the other between 2003 and 2007 — but the statute of limitation on the third child, who died more than 20 years ago, has now expired.
She is accused of suffocating one child and either suffocating the other or allowing it to die of neglect, before placing the bodies in the freezer.
The woman could face up to 15 years imprisonment if convicted. A verdict is expected in early December.
After the bodies were found she handed herself in at a police station, accompanied by her husband and 24-year-old daughter.
It was the latest in a string of similar cases in Germany.
In the worst case, a woman was convicted of manslaughter in 2006 and sentenced to the maximum 15 years in prison for killing eight of her newborn babies and burying them in flower pots and a fish tank in the garden of her parents' home near the German-Polish border.