One day in the summer of 2010, a man was digging in his garden in northern France when he discovered a trash bag containing the remains of an infant. When he summoned the police, they found the body of another newborn. A few days later, they found more bags in the garage – with six additional small corpses.
Police contacted the house’s previous owners, and quickly discovered the horrifying explanation: Frenchwoman Dominique Cottrez confessed to secretly bearing and then killing eight of her newborns, saying she feared they were children of a long, incestuous relationship with her father. However, forensic exams on the remains of the eight infants, and tests on her two living grown daughters showed that all were fathered by Cottrez’s husband, according to court documents.
Cottrez, 51, went on trial Thursday in the city of Douai, accused of multiple counts of first-degree murder of minors.Cottrez wept as she took her seat. She faces life in prison if found guilty. Her lawyers were expected to argue that she was a victim of rape and incest, and ask for a lesser sentence. The worst infanticide case in modern French history stunned the country when the bodies were discovered in and around the Cottrez’ former home in 2010.Cottrez’s obesity appeared to hide the pregnancies, which went unnoticed by her husband, children, neighbors, colleagues and even doctors at a nearby hospital. She has told investigators she was mocked as “fatty” in school and closed herself up at the farm with her father, who accepted her as she was. In court on Thursday, the prosecutor asked if she enjoyed being pregnant with her two daughters, Emiline, 28, and Virginie, 27, both present at the hearing. Cottrez replied, “Yes, for Emiline I liked it, but only for Emiline.”