In July 2010 in a small town
in North of France the new owners of a house found two suspicious plastic bags
in the garden. They contacted the gendarmerie (police) who discovered two newborn
bodies. The autopsy revealed the first death occurred in 1989. The
investigation led to the former owners’ family and the youngest daughter,
Dominique Cottrez, quickly admitted being the mother of the babies. She
confessed to more killings and bodies hidden in her actual house’s garage. Six
more bodies were discovered there.
Traumatized by her first delivery - because the midwife apparently mocked her weight - she developed a phobia of the medical world. She has two adult daughters with her husband but the second birth was a surprise to him as she kept to herself and didn’t tell she was pregnant. She didn’t want to be examined.
Though she didn’t want any more children, she wasn’t using any contraception.
The same thing happened when she got pregnant for the third time. But this time
she wouldn’t leave the baby live. When she felt contractions and her husband was
away on a professional trip, she delivered the baby alone before smothering it
and putting the little body in a garbage bag. She repeated this 7 more times,
strangling the newborns, putting the bodies in plastic bags and hiding them
around the house.
Because she is overweight, no one, not even her husband, ever noticed she was pregnant.
The deaths are thought to have happened from 1989 to 2000 and because there is a prescription period of 10 years for crimes in France, her lawyer argued she shouldn’t even face trial. The Cour de Cassation (the highest court in France) ruled that, since the crimes were completely concealed, the prescription time should start from the discovery of the bodies.
After two years in jail Dominique
Cottrez was released until her trial. She gave interviews and tried to explain
herself. She said she was raped by her father, who passed away in 2007, since
the age of 8 and that she was afraid the children might be his. Genetic
analyzes showed all babies were her husband’s.
In June 2015, at 51, she appeared in court on 8 counts of murder on minors aged less than 15 years old charges and risked a life sentence. She eventually admitted her father never raped her. The prosecutor required only 18 years in prison instead of life. She was found guilty but the jurors agreed she had “diminished mental capacity” and she was sentenced to 9 years in prison.
This is the most important infanticide case in Europe.