updated 5/5/2008 3:02:38 PM ET 2008-05-05T19:02:38

A 44-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of killing her own babies after her grown children found the bodies of three infants stashed in the family’s freezer while looking for a frozen pizza, police said Monday.

Police confirmed the grisly find Sunday night in the town of Wenden, near Olpe, in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia after the woman turned herself in, officials said.

The three infants are believed to have been born alive, but authorities were awaiting autopsy results to determine how they died, said Johannes Daheim, a spokesman for prosecutors investigating the case.

The woman, her 47-year-old husband and three adult children — two sons, aged 18 and 22, and a 24-year-old daughter — have lived in the town in a single-family home since 1984.

The children discovered the frozen babies on Saturday afternoon while their parents were away for the weekend, investigator Martin Feldmann said.

The 18-year-old and his sister had been looking for a frozen pizza and came across a lot of expired food so decided to clean out the freezer.

The teenager then found three identical packets on the bottom of the freezer and opened one and saw the head and arm of an infant that was wrapped in a hand towel, police said.

The children confronted their parents when they returned home Sunday, and the couple and their daughter then went to police together to tell authorities, said Herbert Fingerhut, head of the police investigation, at a news conference.

The corpulent woman apparently concealed the three pregnancies, believed to have been in the 1980s, not only from neighbors but also her own family, Fingerhut said.

“It sounds unbelievable, but there are examples showing such things are possible,” he said.

The news of the discovery took other residents aback.

“I’ve been mayor for 14 years, and this is definitely the worst day I’ve seen,” said Peter Brueser. “We will need a long time here to work through this.”

It was the latest in a string of similar cases in Germany.

In the worst case, a woman was convicted of manslaughter in 2006 and sentenced to the maximum 15 years in prison for killing eight of her newborn babies and burying them in flower pots and a fish tank in the garden of her parents’ home near the German-Polish border.

More recently, police in February were called to a home in northern Germany where a dead infant was discovered in the cellar.

In January, a 28-year-old German woman was charged with manslaughter after the remains of three babies were discovered in her house and the home of a relative. That woman has denied killing the babies.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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