After decades of not reporting it, a man told authorities his sister killed four of her babies between 1965 and 1970, authorities said.
When investigators tracked down Cheryl Athene Miller in San Francisco, where she was unemployed and living alone, she confessed to the murders and was arrested Monday, according to sheriff's Sgt. Scott Poma.
Miller, 59, seemed ready to unburden herself, Poma said.
"She kind of wanted to deal with it," he said. "She seemed surprised and remorseful."
Miller was arraigned Wednesday on four counts of murder but did not enter a plea. If convicted, she could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Miller, who has a record of minor offenses, was being held in lieu of $2 million bail and did not have an attorney on record. Her next court date was set for Nov. 17
Poma wouldn't say how or why Miller is to have killed her children, who ranged in age from 11 days to 1 year. He also wouldn't identify her brother, whom he said had known all along but would not be charged, and wouldn't say what might have motivated him to finally turn in his sister.
"We would never have this if he didn't come forward," in August 2005, Poma said.
The killings began in San Diego County in December 1965 with the death of Sherry Scott, who was 11 days old, and continued a month later with her sister, Carla Scott, who was 1, Poma said. Both were deemed natural deaths.
Fifteen months later, Miller's 3-month-old son, David, died in Long Beach, Poma said.
By February 1970, Miller had moved north to Mendocino County where her mother lived. Her 9-month-old daughter, Kimberly, died in Calpella, about 100 miles north of San Francisco.
Investigators were suspicious at the time because Miller told them about the deaths of her other three children, Poma said. She wasn't charged, but county officials removed two other children from her home and she never regained custody.
The children, now adults, live in California but don't have contact with Miller, Poma said. He would not identify the surviving children or the men who fathered them and Miller's other children.