French woman arrested for killing eight of her children
A French nursing student was arrested in Villers-au-Tertre, France and charged with murder after she told police she had suffocated eight of her newborn babies because she didn't want any more children and didn't want to see a doctor for contraception.
Dominique Cottrez, 45, confessed to killing the babies just after their births between 1989 and 2006 or 2007. She concealed the bodies from her husband, who was questioned by police and released, under household clutter in the garage.
The father, Pierre-Marie Cottrez, said he never even suspected she was pregnant all those times. His wife's heavy build likely helped her conceal the pregnancies.
Villagers gathered outside the Cottrez current and former homes, and placed flowers and candles in remembrance of the babies.
Two sets of bones were found at a former home of the couple, and the remaining six were found at their current home. Investigators searched the current home of the couple after the owners of their previous home found two tiny bodies while digging a pool in the backyard.
Pierre-Marie Cottrez is a carpenter and has served as a village council member. He's described as locals as a respectable man, in contrast to his wife, who neighbors said is withdrawn and rarely participates in village life. The couple has two grown daughters who have children of their own. Neither have shown any signs of repeating their mother's strange and deadly behavior.
Shockingly, this isn't the first time news like this made headlines in France. Veronique Courjault was convicted in 2009 for killing three of her newborns, and last March, Celine Lesage was found guilty of murdering six of her babies.
But why are French women killing their babies? Why do women anywhere commit this horrible crime?
Experts say these cases result from pregnancy denial, an often misunderstood and minimized condition. Pregnancy denial is a quasi-schizophrenic condition in which women either don't realize or cannot accept that they are pregnant, not even enough to have their unwanted babies aborted. They can't even accept it after the child is born and they are confronted with the reality.
The condition is caused by several things, including previous trauma like beatings or rape. But the denial can kick in even if the woman has given birth to and raised other children. While the condition has been around for decades, there does seem to be a rise in incidents in recent years, and experts say this is due to changes in wider social factors that have downgraded the value of childhood, parenting and family.
In some cases, however, it is simply a matter of women failing to see themselves as mothers.