French police have discovered the bodies of five babies in a house in southwestern France in what appears to be the country’s worst case of infanticide in five years.
On Thursday, officers found one newborn baby in a thermal bag and four others in a freezer at a house in Louchats commune, near the French city of Bordeaux, a source close to the case said.
An investigation is ongoing into the incident.
Authorities detained the 40-year-old father, who reportedly discovered the bag containing the first corpse of a newborn baby at the family home earlier in the day.
Meanwhile, the 35-year-old mother was hospitalized in Bordeaux “for gynecological and psychiatric examinations,” the source said, adding that the woman “at this stage does not appear to have a history of mental illness.”
Autopsies have been scheduled to determine whether the babies were born alive. The mother apparently “gave birth at home alone,” the source said.
The French couple has two daughters aged 13 and 15.
Accused French baby killers, Dominique Cottrez (L) and Veronique Courjault
The discovery marks the worst case of infanticide in recent French history since 2010, when Dominique Cottrez admitted to killing eight of her babies over two decades in the northern village of Villers-au-Tertre, smothering them immediately after they were born.
In 2009, a French mother, Veronique Courjault, was jailed for smothering two boys born in secret at her expatriate home in South Korea, and a third child born in France, and hiding them in a freezer.
In France, murder charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Psychiatrists believe that women who voluntarily murder their own children may be suffering from a psychological condition known as “pregnancy denial,” in which they convince themselves that the child never exists before killing them.