Baby killer was devoted mother, say daughters

The two surviving daughters of multiple-baby killer Dominique Cottrez have described her as a doting mother who selflessly devoted herself to her family.

"We never lacked for a thing ... She was always ready to do anything for [us]," Emeline Cottrez, 22, told La Voix du Nord, the regional newspaper for northern France.

Her younger sister, Virginie, spoke of her mother's tears and delight when she and Emeline gave birth.

"How was she able to accept her two grandsons after all that had happened?" Virginie, 21, asked.

Dominique Cottrez, 45, who lives in Villers-au-Tertre, near Lille, has admitted to smothering eight new-born babies between 1989 and 2006 after concealing her pregnancies. She has been placed under formal investigation – a step short of a charge – on eight counts of "murder of a child under the age of 15".

Her lawyer, Frank Berton, said yesterday that his client was unlikely to be charged with "five or six" of the murders because they had happened too long ago. Under French law, a prosecution for murder must be brought within 10 years. Mr Berton said that Ms Cottrez was "overwhelmed, exhausted, stricken and confused" but also "relieved" to have been able to share "a secret she had borne alone" for more than 20 years.

Gendarmes discovered the remains of two newborns buried in the garden of Ms Cottrez's former home, which she had shared with her husband, Pierre-Marie, 47. Ms Cottrez, an auxiliary nurse, admitted to smothering the babies soon after birth and showed gendarmes six other small skeletons hidden in plastic bags in the garage of the house.

She told investigators she had murdered the babies because she "didn't want any more children". She had shunned contraception because she distrusted doctors having had bad experiences at the births of her first daughters.

Ms Cottrez, who weighs 20 stone, said her size helped her conceal the pregnancies. The judge in charge of the case has accepted, for now, this version of events. Mr Cottrez, a carpenter and village councillor, has not been placed under investigation.

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