updated 12/29/2006 11:25:35 PM ET 2006-12-30T04:25:35

Investigators discovered 15 skulls at a house near New Delhi where a domestic servant has confessed to sexually assaulting and killing children, authorities said Saturday.

The suspect confessed to only seven deaths after being arrested Friday, but the latest revelation appeared to confirm fears that more children had been killed.

Residents of Noida, a township east of New Delhi, said 38 children had gone missing in recent years from the neighborhood around the house.

Police officer Ramesh Bharatya said investigators had so far found 15 skulls in the house and parts and bones from an undetermined number of bodies dumped in the yard around the home.

The servant, who went by the names Satish or Surendra, was found with a missing girl's mobile phone, and suspicious police went to the house, where they smelled decomposing corpses, said R.K.S. Rathore, police chief for the area.

Police used a backhoe and bulldozer Friday to help dig through the yard.

Suspect said he lured children with sweets, police report
Rathore said the owner of the house, Mohinder Singh, also had been arrested, although investigators had not yet determined if he had any direct role in the killings.

According to Rathore, Satish told them that he lured the children to the house with the promise of chocolate and sweets so he could sexually assault and kill them.

Among the onlookers were parents of missing children, most of them poor domestic workers.

Sunita Kumari, who irons clothes for a living, said her 10-year-old daughter, Jyoti, had been missing for a year and seven months.

"I have no clue what happened to my daughter. I sent her to the tailor and she's been missing since then," she said.

"We have been pursuing with police the case of these 38 children who have been missing," said Satish Chandra Mishra, a former president of the local residents association.

Like many of the thousands of people who gathered at the scene, he feared that most of the missing children had ended up at the house and been killed.

Police brushed off reports of missing kids, group says
Durga Prasad, a driver, said he sent his 7-year-old daughter, Arti, to buy candies on Sept. 25 and she never came back.

"The police tell us they're looking and asked us to keep looking too, but we have no news about our child," Prasad said.

Usha Thakur, who runs the Shivsagar Mishra Manav Trust, a group that works with poor people in the neighborhood, said police had repeatedly brushed off reports of missing children.

"Because these are poor people the police even refuse to register cases for the missing children," Thakur told The Associated Press over the telephone from Calcutta, where she was traveling.

Police officials did not comment about the allegations, but CNN-IBN reported that a midlevel commander in the neighborhood was suspended hours after the bodies were found.

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