A woman on trial in one of Germany’s worst infanticide cases, involving eight dead babies, confessed Tuesday (Jul 12) to killing several of them but said she could not remember how many.
Andrea Goeppner, 45, was charged with four of the murders after the babies’ remains were found wrapped in towels and plastic bags last year in a case that revulsed the country.
Asked how many of the eight she confessed to killing, her defence lawyer Till Wagler said, “it could have been two, three or four”.
Prosecutors were unable to pursue murder charges for the other four infants, as one was found to have been stillborn and three were so badly decomposed that it was unclear whether they were viable at birth.
The grisly remains were uncovered last year in Goeppner’s apartment in the Bavarian small town of Wallenfels.
The woman’s estranged husband, Johann Goeppner, 55, is charged with complicity for failing to stop the killings, which took place between 2003 and 2013.
In her confession, read out by her lawyer, the mother said she had given birth to each of the eight babies at home alone and had wrapped every infant in a hand towel. She would promptly suffocate any baby that moved or cried, then place the body in a plastic bag or containers and hide it in the apartment, said Wagler.
The pair had each brought two children into the marriage, and the couple conceived three more surviving children together, the court heard.
Even though they did not want any more children, they used no contraceptives, and Andrea Goeppner was almost constantly pregnant over a decade.
State prosecutors in their charge sheet said her actions showed “sexual egoism, indifference and callousness”.
“She sought simply to remain sexually active without any thought about the consequences or the value of a newborn child.”
Taking the stand on Tuesday, her now estranged husband described the mother as a chronic liar and compulsive shopper who stole from her mother and her children. He said he moved out in October, a month before police uncovered the babies’ remains in their apartment after being alerted by a nearby resident.
Prosecutors say the man was aware of his wife’s frequent pregnancies and could have taken action to stop them.
“Through his inaction, he encouraged the accused, Andrea Goeppner, in all the cases,” they said.
In Germany, murder carries a sentence of 15 years’ prison, while complicity carries a minimum of three years.
A verdict is expected next Wednesday.
Germany has been shocked by several infanticide cases in recent years.
In May, a woman was sentenced to 44 months in prison for killing two of her children and hiding their remains in a freezer. In October 2013, construction workers in Bavaria found the remains of two babies, dead since the 1980s.
And in 2008, a 42-year-old woman was convicted of killing eight of her newborn babies, then hiding their bodies in buckets, flower pots and an old fish tank.