Woman guilty of killing 3 babies

She may have hid bodies in Utah while living here

Published: Thursday, Dec. 25 2003 12:00 a.m. MST

MONTICELLO, N.Y. — A former Utah woman was convicted Dec. 16 of killing three of her infant children during the 1980s, a case brought after mummified remains were found in a storage shed in Arizona this year.

After about four hours of deliberations, a jury found Diane Odell, 50, guilty of second-degree murder, ruling that she acted with a depraved indifference to human life.

Odell stared straight ahead as the verdict was read. In one hand she held a rosary; in the other, her lawyer's hand.

The babies died shortly after they were born between 1982 and 1985 in Kauneonga Lake, about 80 miles north of New York City. Odell was arrested in May after the remains, wrapped in towels and blankets, were found in cardboard boxes in a storage shed in Safford, Ariz.

Odell lived at the Evergreen Mobile Park Homes, 2491 N. U.S. 89, in Pleasant View, Weber County, for a short time in 1991.

Graham County, Ariz., Undersheriff David Boyd told the Deseret Morning News in May that Odell traveled around the country with the deceased infants and it's more than likely she had the bodies with her when she lived in Utah.

Second-degree murder carries a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 25 years to life.

As she was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, Odell turned and addressed her common-law husband, Robert Sauerstein, and six of her eight surviving children.

"Don't cry guys," she said. "Love you."

Odell's lawyer, Stephan Schick, said he would appeal.

Prosecutor Steve Lungen told jurors during closing arguments Monday that Odell hid the remains to hide her crime.

"She talks about ringing in her ears," he said. "The screaming in her ears she's telling you about, that's the screaming of those babies. She's been hearing it for 27 years."

Schick, who called no witnesses, said Odell delivered the babies without medical help at home because she was scared to tell her mother she was pregnant. Schick maintained the babies died naturally and Odell carried their remains from state to state because she couldn't bear to part with them.

In a recording played at trial, Odell described delivering the babies, passing out and waking up to find them dead.

"I think I should go to jail," Odell said in the recording.


Contributing: Pat Reavy, Deseret Morning News

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