Crime Files Network

Archive for the ‘CHILDREN’ Category

A Melbourne man who murdered his two young daughters by smothering them with a pillow has been sentenced to life in jail.

Charles Mihayo, 36, smothered his daughters Savannah, 4, and Indianna, 3, at his unit at Watsonia in April.

Indianna, 3, (left) and Savannah, 4, were at the centre of a bitter custodial dispute image

He pleaded guilty to the killings in August and was today sentenced in the Supreme Court to a minimum of 31 years in jail.

Prosecutors said Mihayo was locked in a bitter custodial dispute with the girls’ mother, his former wife, at the time and had acted out of revenge.

The court heard Mihayo sent a text message to his former wife shortly before he killed them suggesting she had “won”, and he was giving up his rights to see the girls.

He told her he wanted to see them “one last time” and when she took them to see him, he dressed the girls up in new dresses he had bought for them.

He then filmed them dancing to music, before smothering them with pillows.

After killing them, Mihayo bathed them, then redressed them in ballerina dresses.

He then phoned triple-0 to report a double murder and when police arrive he said: “It’s done, I’ve killed them. I’ve killed my kids.”

Mihayo was arrested at the scene and confessed to police, telling them “there was no good reason” for the killings but it “made sense at the time”.

When police asked why he had killed his daughters, he told them “you’d have to ask her”, meaning his ex-wife.

In sentencing, Victorian Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry said the conflict with his wife had inexplicably motivated his “hideous crimes”.

“I simply do not understand why, when the continuing argument was between you and your ex-wife about these children, you made them pay with their lives in order to inflict pain and loss on your ex-wife,” he said.

Nothing can justify what Mihayo did: judge

Mihayo will serve a minimum of 31 years in prison for murdering his daughters.image

Justice Lasry said Mihayo had given into the “basest of instincts”.

“You decided to demonstrate to your ex-wife that she did not have the control over the children and their relationship with you that she thought she had,” he said.

The judge said while Mihayo had taken responsibility for what he had done, he did not seem to regret it.

“I am not at all sure that you have a genuine sense or desire to amend the sin or wrongdoing such as to enable me to conclude you are remorseful,” he said.

“You do not appear to me to be crushed or broken in spirit by your wrongdoing.”

Family ‘can finally start healing process’

The girls’ family issued a statement after the sentence was handed down.

“There is no adequate punishment or jail sentence for filicide,” the statement said.

“Forever missed, loved and never forgotten.

“We would like to take this opportunity to firstly thank our family and friends for their ongoing support and the community for their thoughts and prayers during this devastating time.

“We ask the media to please respect our privacy so we can finally start the grieving and healing process.”


The stench of the Taliban raises its ugly head again


TALIBAN insurgents have killed at least 141 people, most of them children, after storming an army-run school in Pakistan’s deadliest ever terror attack.

Chief military spokesman General Asim Bajwa said 132 students and nine staff were killed in an eight-hour onslaught at the army-run school in the north-western city of Peshawar.

Witnesses described how a huge blast shook the Army Public School and six Taliban gunmen in government paramilitary uniforms went from classroom to classroom shooting children, some as young as 12.

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Family grief … The uncle and cousin of injured student Mohammad Baqair comfort him as he mourns the death of his mother, a teacher at the school. Picture: AP

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the assault, calling it revenge for a major military offensive in the region.

The militants had been ordered to shoot older students, a Taliban spokesman said.

ATTACK: Taliban bomb blast near US Embassy and Kabul Supreme Court

REVENGE: Afghan mum Reza Gul kills 25 Taliban after her son being killed

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Massacre … Gunmen reportedly went from classroom to classroom shooting students. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad

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Tragic … The wounded start arriving at a hospital for treatment. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad

A teenage survivor described how he played dead to escape the militants as they rampaged through the school, hunting for people to kill.

Shahrukh Khan, 16, said he and his classmates ducked below their desks when four gunmen burst into their room.

“I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me. This guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches,” Khan told AFP from the trauma ward of the city’s Lady Reading Hospital.

Khan decided to play dead after being shot in both legs, stuffing his tie into his mouth to stifle his screams.

“The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again,” he said.

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Bloodshed … an injured student receives treatment at a local hospital after the Taliban attack that least 141 people dead. Picture: AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad

Distraught parents thronged the city’s Lady Reading Hospital in the wake of the attack, weeping uncontrollably as children’s bodies arrived, their school uniforms drenched in blood.

Irshadah Bibi, 40, whose 12-year-old son was among the dead, beat her face in grief, throwing herself against an ambulance.

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Injured … Pakistani volunteers help carry injured students into hospital. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad

“O God, why did you snatch away my son? What is the sin of my child and all these children?” she wept.

“My son was in uniform in the morning. He is in a casket now,” wailed one parent, Tahir Ali, as he came to the hospital to collect the body of his 14-year-old son Abdullah. “My son was my dream. My dream has been killed.”

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was retaliation for the army’s continuing operation against militants in the North Waziristan tribal area close to Peshawar.

“We are doing this because we want them to feel the pain of how terrible it is when your loved ones are killed,” said TTP spokesman Muhammad Khorasani.

“We are taking this step so that their families should mourn as ours are mourning.”

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Heartbreaking … The bodies of those killed are already being retrieved from hospitals. AP/Mohammad Sajjad

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Hospitals fill with injured … Those not killed receive treatment for their wounds. Picture: AFP/ A Majeed

Police officials said the attack ended around 6.30pm local time, some eight hours after it began, with all six militants dead.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif described the attack as a “national tragedy unleashed by savages”.

“These were my children. This is my loss. This is the nation’s loss,” he said.

Sharif vowed that the country would not be cowed by the violence and that the military would continue with an aggressive operation launched in June in the North Waziristan tribal area to rout militants.

“The fight will continue. No one should have any doubt about it,” Sharif said.

US President Barack Obama condemned the attack and promised America will stand by Pakistan in its struggle against violent extremism.

“By targeting students and teachers in this heinous attack, terrorists have once again shown their depravity,” he said.

“We stand with the people of Pakistan, and reiterate the commitment of the United States to support the government of Pakistan in its efforts to combat terrorism and extremism and to promote peace and stability in the region.”

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Innocents … Pakistani soldiers transport rescued schoolchildren after the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar. Picture: AFP

Teenage Nobel Peace laureate and education activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for campaigning for girls’ right to an education, condemned the attack.

“I am heartbroken by this senseless and cold blooded act of terror in Peshawar that is unfolding before us. Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this,” said Malala.

“I condemn these atrocious and cowardly acts and stand united with the government and armed forces of Pakistan whose efforts so far to address this horrific event are commendable.”

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Worst nightmare … a Pakistani army soldier clears the area outside a school attacked by Taliban in Peshawar as anxious parent wait for news of their children. Picture: AFP

Provincial information minister Mushtaq Ghani told AFP the death toll had reached 130, with a similar number wounded.

The toll was confirmed by another provincial minister.

Mudassar Abbas, a physics laboratory assistant at the school, said some students were celebrating at a party when the attack began.

“I saw six or seven people walking class-to-class and opening fire on children,” he said.

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Violence … The students that survived were left bloody and injured. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad

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Carnage … Rescue workers transport students from ambulances into hospitals. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad

A student who survived the attack said soldiers came to rescue students during a lull in the firing.

“When we were coming out of the class we saw dead bodies of our friends lying in the corridors. They were bleeding. Some were shot three times, some four times,” the student said.

“The men entered the rooms one by one and started indiscriminate firing at the staff and students.”

The school on Peshawar’s Warsak Road is part of the Army Public Schools and Colleges System, which runs 146 schools nationwide for the children of military personnel and civilians.

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Bloodbath … A wounded student said all the children had bullet wounds. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad

The schools educate the children of both officers and non-commissioned soldiers and army wives often teach in them.

The attack began in the morning, with the Taliban shooting at random, said police officer Javed Khan.

Army commandos quickly arrived at the scene and exchanged fire with the gunmen, he said.

Outside the school, shooting was initially heard along with one loud bang of unknown origin.

Pakistani television showed soldiers surrounding the area and pushing people back.

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On the scene … Pakistani army troops arrived quickly to conduct an operation at the school. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad

Later, one of the wounded students, Abdullah Jamal, said that he was with a group of 8th, 9th and 10th graders who were getting first-aid instructions and training with a team of Pakistani army medics when the violence began for real.

When the shooting started, Jamal, who was shot in the leg, said nobody knew what was going on in the first few seconds.

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At the ready … Pakistani soldiers take up position. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad

“Then I saw children falling down who were crying and screaming. I also fell down. I learned later that I have got a bullet,” he said, speaking from his hospital bed.

“All the children had bullet wounds. All the children were bleeding,” Jamal added.

“This attack is a response to Zarb-e-Azab and the killing of Taliban fighters and harassing their families.”

Zarb-e-Azb is the official name for the army’s offensive against strongholds of the Taliban and other militants in North Waziristan.

The military has hailed the operation as a major success in disrupting the TTP’s insurgency, which has killed thousands of Pakistanis since it erupted in 2007.

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Safely out … A plainclothes security officer escorts students rescued from a nearby school during the attack. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad

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Devastating … Families wait for news and their loved ones at the hospital. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad

More than 1600 militants have been killed since the launch of Zarb-e-Azb in June, according to data compiled by AFP from regular military statements.

Talat Masood, a retired general and security analyst, said the attack was intended to weaken the military’s resolve.

“It is both tactical and strategic. The militants know they won’t be able to strike at the heart of the military, they don’t have the capacity because the army are prepared,” Masood told AFP.

“So they are going for soft targets. These attacks have a great psychological impact.”

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Taliban attack … A wounded Pakistani student receives treatment at a hospital. Picture: AFP

The semi-autonomous tribal areas that border Afghanistan have for years been a hide-out for Islamist militants of all stripes — including Al-Qaeda and the homegrown TTP as well as foreign fighters such as Uzbeks and Uighurs.

Washington pressed Islamabad for years to wipe out the sanctuaries in North Waziristan, which militants have used to launch attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Peshawar has been the target of frequent militant attacks in the past but has seen a relative lull recently.

India has condemned the latest attack by Taliban militants.

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Awful … Pakistani parents react to the news of the attack. Picture: AFP/ A Majeed

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the attack in the north-western city of Peshawar exposed the “real face of terrorism”.

“I strongly condemn the terrorist attack on a school at Peshawar,” he tweeted. “This dastardly & inhuman attack exposes the real face of terrorism. My heart goes out to the families of those children who got killed by the terrorists in Peshawar.”

India has repeatedly urged Pakistan to rein in militant groups operating on its soil.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, and deadly attacks on Mumbai by Pakistan-based militants dealt a blow to tentative peace talks in 2008.

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Catastrophic … Parents rush to the hospital to find their children. Picture: AP/Mohammad Sajjad

French President Francois Hollande also condemned what he described as a “vile” attack on the school.

“No words can express the ignominy of such an attack against children in their school,” said Mr

Germany also spoke about the “cruel cowardice” of the Taliban attack.

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Bloody attack … a family member escorts children from the school. Picture: AP

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement he condemned the “criminal attack in the strongest terms”.

“The hostage-taking and murder of children exceeds in its cruel cowardice all that Pakistan, stricken by years of terror and violence, has known before.

“We mourn with the people of Pakistan the victims of this bloody terrorist attack. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims. For the many injured we wish speedy recoveries.”

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Nation mourns … Pakistani children pray during a candle light vigil for the victims of the Taliban attack. Picture: AP Photo/Fareed Khan

Henry Sapiecha


masked gunman with assault rifle

(Reuters) – Using toy guns, a 12-year-old boy and his 13-year-old accomplice tried to rob a bank in Israel but fled without any cash after apparently losing their nerve, police said on Thursday.

Security camera footage showed the boys, wearing hooded sweatshirts, entering the bank in Rishon Lezion, a suburb of Tel Aviv on Wednesday. One had a schoolbag on his back and what appeared to be a rifle in his hand.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said both were carrying fake M-16 assault rifles and that they shouted “this is a holdup”.

“They were toy guns but they looked real. The people in the bank were scared, but then the suspects ran out without taking any money,” he said, adding that police were able to identify the pair from the security footage and later arrested them.


Quinn De Campe, 16, was bashed to death.image

Quinn De Campe, 16, was bashed to death.

The sentence handed to a trio of teenagers who fatally bashed a 16-year-old boy during a staged drug deal in Perth is irrelevant, his parents say, because it won’t bring back their only son.

Quinn De Campe died the day after being bashed, kneed and kicked by the three teens who lured him to a park to sell him cannabis in December last year.

Judge Denis Reynolds sentenced the three attackers on Thursday to six and a half years in jail for manslaughter, to be served concurrently with a four year sentence for aggravated armed robbery.

The fourth boy was sentenced to three-and-a-half years behind bars.

“The sentence is irrelevant – nothing is going to change what’s happened,” Quinn’s father Vaughan De Campe told reporters outside court.

But he and wife Shelley said it was important to discourage and hopefully diminish such senseless crimes, seen all too often on the streets.

“Quinn grew up to believe that people’s differences were to be celebrated and not judged. Ultimately, it led to him losing his life,” they said.

“Regardless of the sentence handed down today, it will never change the fact that our son has lost his life in a cowardly and brutal attack that was perpetrated by juveniles.

“It is us and our family that will live with this life sentence. Nothing will ever take away the pain of losing Quinn, our only child.”

Judge Reynolds said the offending was an extremely serious example of its kind because Quinn had been lured to an isolated location and left there severely injured after being outnumbered three to one.

“The three of you were persistent,” he said.

“The three of you were unrelenting.

“Your whole focus was to get the money.”

The teenagers planned to rob Quinn when they lured him to the Balga bush reserve and – brandishing a broken bottle – assaulted him after he refused to give up his belongings, which included $175 to buy the cannabis.

Quinn was punched, kneed and kicked so hard it left a shoe imprint on his head and caused his attacker to limp.

He was chased down when he tried to run away and was found bleeding, bruised and unconscious. He died in hospital the next day.

His attackers, who were around the same age, were initially charged with grievous bodily harm but that was later upgraded to murder.

They last month pleaded guilty to manslaughter – a plea bargain accepted by the prosecution.

Along with the fourth boy, they also pleaded guilty to aggravated armed robbery.

Judge Reynolds said all the offenders had been initially remorseless, with one lying “big time” to police.

They had all developed remorse during the 11 months they have already served at Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre, but in each case, that was overlaid with regret for the impact on themselves, he said.

All will be eligible for parole after serving half of their terms.



Albert Fish: The Terrifying Real-Life Boogeyman

You’ve Never Heard Of (He Ate Children)

If anyone’s ever told you that the boogeyman wasn’t real, they were lying. The boogeyman isn’t just an urban legend, or that “thing” your mother warned you about as a child to deter you from coming home after the street lights went on, he was a very real man, and his name was Hamilton Howard “Albert” Fish.

Albert-Fish-image  child killer & cannibal

When you envision the boogeyman, you probably think of someone sinister-looking roaming the streets late at night, or even during broad daylight, snatching up children and doing the unthinkable to them. Well, that’s exactly what Fish, who was also nicknamed the Brooklyn Vampire, the Gray Man, the Moon Manic and the Werewolf of Wysteria, did. The only difference here is that his appearance was unassuming, like that of a sweet, harmless grandfather whose lap you’d sit on for story time. It’s how he was able to escape detection for so long.

This assumption couldn’t have been further from the truth.

To say Fish was one of the most monstrous people who ever walked the earth would be an understatement. He committed murders so horrific that police initially couldn’t believe the details of his confessions.

Fish was born in 1870 in Washington, D.C., to a family who had a long history of serious mental illness. To put it lightly, their disorders could have filled an entire medical textbook. Fish himself was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, which is a chronic condition requiring lifelong treatment for the delusions, disordered thinking and behavior, and abnormal interpretations of reality that accompany it. Needless to say, Fish never received any treatment.

But the real story began when Fish’s father, who was a Potomac River boat captain, died in 1875. At that time, he was only five-years-old, far from capable of grappling with the effects of losing a parent. Sadly, that same year, his mother abandoned him, dropping him off to live in St. John’s Orphanage, located in D.C.’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood.

This is where psychologists believe the demons inside Fish began to awaken. At the orphanage, he was beaten and whipped daily; to the point that after suffering from the abuse for four straight years, he actually began to enjoy it. When he was nine-years-old, his distraught mother showed up and brought him back into her custody. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done and could not be reversed.

His time spent at the orphanage was a defining moment in his life, especially considering the appalling torture he experienced as a child is the common factor in the backgrounds of the majority of serial killers.

“While there, he was subjected to all manners of physical and sexual abuse and humiliation and torture, which completely warped his personality out of shape. It turned him into the kind of monstrous being that he was,” says Harold Schechter, a professor of American Literature at Queens College, City University of New York and author of Deranged: The Shocking True Story of America’s Most Fiendish Killer.

As a teenager, Fish started to display unusual and alarming behaviors, such as drinking urine and eating feces. In 1890, at the age of 20, he found pleasure in snatching young boys off the street in Manhattan, where he moved with his mother, and raping them. But this is just the beginning of a story most folks would just rather forget.

Two years later, after visiting a wax museum where he saw a penis divided into two equal parts, this “polymorphous pervert” became obsessed with sexual maiming. From that point, he began practicing even more deviations — from sadism to sodomy and even self-mutilation.

Surprisingly, in 1898, he was married and fathered six children. According to one of their testimonies during Fish’s trial, they lead average lives until their mother ran off with another man in 1917. That’s when Fish’s children recall his strange and unpredictable behavior surfacing — occasionally requesting them to join in on his sado-masochistic games, watching him eat large quantities of raw meat, proclaiming he was Christ, and collecting published material on cannibalism.

As time went on, the fantasies he performed on children grew more fiendish and horrifying, and often ended in murdering and cannibalizing his naive victims with his “instruments of hell.” These instruments were made up of a butcher knife, a meat cleaver and a hand saw. He was a real-life Hannibal Lecter as portrayed in Silence of the Lambs.

Fish’s first arrest was not for something you’d imagine from a wicked serial killer. In 1903, he was detained for theft, but released a short while later only to begin having hallucinations of the apostles commanding him.

For the next 27 years, he captured raped, murdered and ate countless innocent children. Although he only officially confessed to the murder of three people, he later claimed that during his 65 years as a free man to have hunted and killed more than a hundred “children in every state.” According to Fish, he preyed exclusively on children because they were “tasty.”

He was once quoted saying, “I never ate any roast turkey that tasted half as good.”

Fish flew under the radar for many years. It wasn’t until he murdered 10-year-old Grace Budd in 1928 that things started to take a turn. The investigation into this little girl’s disappearance went on for six years before detectives got a break into the puzzling case.

Then, on November, 11, 1934, Grace’s grieving mother received an anonymous letter detailing the horrors he committed.

“Grace sat in my lap and kissed me,” the letter said. “I made up my mind to eat her. I choked her to death, then cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms. Cook and eat it.”

As if to offer some sort of consolation, Fish told her that Grace had not been sexually assaulted, just killed and eaten.

Police were able to trace the paper Fish wrote the letter on back to his residence, where he immediately began confessing to killing the young girl, as well as the others.

According to his captors, Fish probably started murdering people as far back as 1910.

He was eventually convicted and sentenced to death by electrocution, something he was rumored to be very excited about.

On January 16, 1936, he was executed, a death that came too late for his victims.

Albert-Fish-child killer & cannibal electrocution image

To this day, Fish is considered one of the most deranged and wicked serial killers in American history.

Undoubtedly, he was the living manifestation of every parent and child in the world’s worst nightmare — worse than any boogeyman I’d ever heard of growing up. So, why haven’t more people heard about this evil soul?

“I think, partly, his crimes were so depraved and so hideous and so horrendous that the general public doesn’t want to really hear too many details about him,” says Schechter. “Obviously, the Boogeyman is a mythical figure, but if anybody, any real flesh and blood human comes close to actually embodying that myth, it’s Albert Fish.”

The papers from Fish’s psychiatrist, Fredric Wertham, are now available at the Library of Congress.


protesters on 6yr old schoolgirl gets raped in india image

A six-year-old schoolgirl has allegedly been raped by two staff members at a prominent school in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, police say.

The alleged assault happened on 2 July but her parents discovered it only a few days ago after she complained of stomach ache and was taken to hospital.

Meanwhile, hundreds of parents have protested outside the school, pulling down its gates and shouting slogans.

Police have registered a case, but they are yet to make any arrests.

The BBC’s Andrew North in Delhi says it’s the latest in a series of sexual assault cases that have made headlines in India.

Figures show more rapes are being reported in general, which is a sign that the crime is being taken more seriously, our correspondent reports. But India’s sluggish judicial system means it can take years for victims to get justice.

New Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised a zero tolerance approach on crimes against women, but violence and discrimination against women remain deeply entrenched in society.

The girl was allegedly raped by a security guard and a gym teacher, but as there are multiple guards and gym instructors in the school, police say they are trying to identify the guilty, BBC Hindi’s Imran Qureshi reports from Bangalore.

As news of the incident became public, hundreds of parents gathered outside the school, protesting against the alleged insensitivity of the school management.

“They have handled it very shoddily,” said Vivek Sharma, parent of a boy studying in the school.

On Thursday, school chairman Rustom Kerawala addressed a meeting of the parents where he offered his “sincere apologies” and promised “full co-operation” with the police investigation.

Scrutiny of sexual violence in India has grown since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus.

The brutal crime led to massive outrage in the country and forced the government to introduce tougher anti-rape laws, including the death penalty in rare cases.

But the law appears to have failed to act as a deterrent. Statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau for 2013 show one rape was reported every 21 minutes.


PROVO, Utah (Reuters) – A Utah mother accused of killing six of her newborn infants over a decade and stashing their bodies in a garage was charged on Monday with murder in their deaths.

Megan Huntsman, accused of killing six of her babies and storing their bodies in her garage, appears in court in Provo

Megan Huntsman, 39, made a brief court appearance in Provo, Utah, as the first-degree murder charges were revealed by Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman.

Hunstman could face life in prison if convicted but will not be eligible for the death penalty, prosecutors said.

Police have said that Huntsman, who was arrested on April 13, has admitted to strangling or suffocating the six babies just after their births between 1996 and 2006 in a rare case of serial infanticide.

The infants’ remains were found wrapped in old towels, shirts and plastic bags and stuffed inside cardboard boxes in the garage of her former home in Pleasant Grove, a suburb just north of Provo. The body of a seventh infant was found disposed of in the same way, but authorities have said they believe that child was stillborn.

Police have said Huntsman secretly gave birth to all seven babies without medical assistance at the house after apparently managing to conceal her pregnancies.

Authorities have said she has explained her rationale for the killings to investigators, but they have not publicly revealed the alleged motive.

Buhman told reporters that DNA from the infants’ remains was still being analyzed to confirm their parentage, which could take weeks or months.

Huntsman has three surviving daughters, ages 14, 18 and 20, and they still live with other relatives at the Pleasant Grove address. At least one of them, the youngest, was born during the period in which the mother is suspected of slaying the babies.

Each count of first-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of five years to life in prison. But Huntsman is not eligible for the death penalty if convicted because the alleged offenses predate changes in the law that would have made them capital crimes, said Jared Perkins, a deputy county attorney.

Huntsman, who remains jailed in lieu of $6 million cash-only bond, was arrested after her estranged husband, Darren West, discovered the remains of one of the infants while cleaning out his garage, leading police to find the six other bodies.

The county attorney said neither West nor the three surviving sisters are considered suspects in the case.



Children at the Home in Ireland in 1924 (Connaught Tribune, 21st June 1924) image

“The bones are still there,” local historian Catherine Corless, who uncovered the origins of the mass grave in a batch of never-before-released documents, told The Washington Post in a phone interview. “The children who died in the Home, this was them.”

A campaign is under way to place a statue and memorial plaque near the site where the children were buried in County Galway, according to Irish Central.

The grim findings, which are being investigated by police, provide a glimpse into a particularly dark time for unmarried pregnant women in Ireland, where societal and religious mores stigmatised them. Without means to support themselves, women by the hundreds wound up at the Home. “When daughters became pregnant, they were ostracised completely,” Ms Corless said. “Families would be afraid of neighbours finding out, because to get pregnant out of marriage was the worst thing on Earth. It was the worst crime a woman could commit, even though a lot of the time it had been because of a rape.”

According to documents Ms Corless provided the Irish Mail on Sunday, malnutrition and neglect killed many of the children, while others died of measles, convulsions, TB, gastroenteritis and pneumonia. Infant mortality at the Home was staggeringly high.

“If you look at the records, babies were dying two a week, but I’m still trying to figure out how they could [put the bodies in a septic tank],” Ms Corless said. “Couldn’t they have afforded baby coffins?”

Special kinds of neglect and abuse were reserved for the Home Babies, as locals call them. Many in surrounding communities remember them. They remember how they were segregated to the fringes of classrooms, and how the local nuns accentuated the differences between them and the others. They remember how, as one local told the Irish Central, they were “usually gone by school age – either adopted or dead”.

Irish children. Source IrishCentral Photo image

According to Irish Central, a 1944 local health board report described the children living at the Home as “emaciated,” “pot-bellied,” “fragile” and with “flesh hanging loosely on limbs.”

Ms Corless has a vivid recollection of the Home Babies. “If you acted up in class, some nuns would threaten to seat you next to the Home Babies,” she said. She said she recalled one instance in which an older schoolgirl wrapped a tiny stone in a bright candy wrapper and gave it to a Home Baby as a gift.

“When the child opened it, she saw she’d been fooled,” Ms Corless told Irish Central. “Of course, I copied her later and I tried to play the joke on another little Home girl. I thought it was funny at the time … Years after, I asked myself what did I do to that poor little girl that never saw a sweet? That has stuck with me all my life. A part of me wants to make up to them.”

She said she first started investigating the Home, which most locals wanted to “forget,” when she started working on a local annual historical journal. She heard there was a little graveyard near what had been the Home, and that piqued her curiosity. How many children were there?

So she requested the records through the local registration house to find out. The attendant “came back a couple of weeks later and said the number was staggering, just hundreds and hundreds, that it was nearly 800 dead children,” Ms Corless said.

Once, in 1995, Ms Corless said in the phone interview, several boys had stumbled across the mass grave, which lay beneath a cracked piece of concrete: “The boys told me it had been filled to the brim with human skulls and bones. They said even to this day they still have nightmares of finding the bodies.”

Locals suspect that the number of bodies in the mass grave, which will likely soon be excavated, may be even higher than 800. “God knows who else is in the grave,” one anonymous source told local media. “It’s been lying there for years, and no one knows the full extent of the total of bodies down there.”

Washington Post



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Protest against police … Indian villagers gather around the bodies of two teenage sisters hanging from a tree in Katra village in Uttar Pradesh state, India. Photo: AP

Lucknow, India: Facing relentless media attention and growing criticism for a series of rapes, state officials in north India fired two police officers on Friday for failing to investigate the disappearance of two teenage cousins, who were gang-raped and later found hanging from a tree.

One of the father’s of the victims told the BBC that he was ridiculed by police when he went to report his daughter and her cousin missing.

But in a country with a long history of tolerance for sexual violence, the firings also came as the state’s top official mocked journalists for asking about the attack.

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An Indian activist prays as she takes part in a candlelight vigil in Kolkata after the cremation ceremony for a gang-rape victim on December 30, 2012. Photo: AFP

“Aren’t you safe? You’re not facing any danger, are you?” Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said in Lucknow, the state capital. “Then why are you worried? What’s it to you?”

The gang-rape, with video of the girls’ corpses hanging from a mango tree and swaying gently in a breeze, was the top story on Friday on India’s relentless 24-hour news stations.

But in just the past few days, Uttar Pradesh has also seen the mother of a rape victim brutally attacked and a 17-year-old girl gang-raped by four men.

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Members of a university students’ union shout slogans during a protest against the gang-rape of two teenage girls in Katra village, outside the Uttar Pradesh state house, in New Delhi. Photo: AP

Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state, with nearly 200 million people.

Official statistics say about 25,000 rapes are committed every year in India, a nation of 1.2 billion people. But activists say that number is very low, since women are often pressed by family or police to stay quiet about sexual assaults.

Indian police and politicians, who for decades had done little about sexual violence, have faced growing public anger since the December 2013 gang-rape and murder of a young woman on a moving New Delhi bus, an attack that sparked national outrage over the treatment of women.

On Friday, the state’s former chief minister lashed out at the ruling government.

“There is no law and order in the state,” said Mayawati, who uses only one name. “It is the law of the jungle.”

Hours later, the chief minister ordered that suspects in the attack be tried in special “fast track” courts, to get around India’s notoriously slow judicial system.

The girls, who were 14 and 15, were raped in the tiny village of Katra, about 300 kilometres from Lucknow.

Police say they disappeared on Tuesday night after going into fields near their home to relieve themselves, since their house has no toilet.

The father of one girl went to police that night to report them missing, but he said they refused to help.

When the bodies were discovered the next day, angry villagers silently protested the police inaction by refusing to allow the bodies to be cut down from the tree.

The villagers allowed authorities to take down the corpses after the first arrests were made on Wednesday. Police arrested two police officers and two men from the village, and were searching for three more suspects.

The girls were Dalits, from the community once known as “untouchables” in India’s ancient caste system. The fired policemen and the men accused in the attack are Yadavs, a low-caste community that dominates that part of Uttar Pradesh. The chief minister is from the same caste.

On Thursday, officials suspended two local police officers for ignoring the father’s pleas for help. They were fired on Friday.

Top state official Anil Kumar Gupta said the two policemen had been charged with criminal conspiracy for refusing to file a complaint or take any action.

Meanwhile, the chief minister’s mocking comments to reporters were not a surprise to many in India.

Last month, Yadav’s father — a former chief minister and head of the state’s ruling party — told an election rally that the party opposed a law calling for gang-rapists to be executed.

“Boys will be boys,” Mulayam Singh Yadav said. “They make mistakes.”

Kavita Krishnan, a women’s rights activist, said such comments make clear to police that rape isn’t taken seriously by officials.

She called the chief minister’s Friday comments “a trivialisation of rape.”

While sexual assaults are reported across India, there have been a string of high-profile attacks in just the past few days in Uttar Pradesh.

On Thursday, police arrested three men for brutally attacking the mother of a rape victim after she refused to withdraw her complaint.

The attack, in the town of Etawah, followed the May 11 rape of the woman’s teenage daughter. A local man was arrested after the mother filed a complaint with authorities.

Five men — including the father, a brother and a cousin of the man accused in the rape — followed the victim’s mother away from her house on Monday and beat her relentlessly, demanding she drop the accusation, said Dinesh Kumar, the town’s police superintendent.

The mother was in critical condition in a hospital, with numerous broken bones and internal injuries.

Police arrested three men on Thursday for the attack and were looking for two others.

On Wednesday, a 17-year-old woman was attacked in a field and raped by four men in southwestern Uttar Pradesh, police said. One man has been arrested.




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