Grieving relatives are asking the public to stop speculating about the circumstances surrounding the grisly murder-suicide shooting in Western Australia, as police confirm three guns found at the scene belonged to property owner, Peter Miles.
“We are devastated by this shocking event,” according to a statement by the extended family.
“We respectfully ask that the community refrain from speculating on the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident.
“We thank the community for their support and ask that our privacy is respected as we grieve.”
At a press conference on Saturday, West Australian Police Commissioner Chris Dawson would not confirm if the 61-year-old grandfather found dead – along with six family members at the rural property in Osmington north-east of Margaret River – was the shooter.
“I wish to strongly emphasise that police do not believe any other person is involved with these crimes. Police are not searching for any other suspect,” Commissioner Dawson said.
“We are treating this as a matter in which six persons are subject of a homicide crime scene and there is a seventh person deceased.”
The three, long-arm, licensed firearms were found at the scene in the Western Australian region, about 227 kilometres south-west of Perth.
Police discovered the bodies of Peter Miles, 61, his wife Cynda Miles, 58, their daughter, Katrina Miles, 35, and her four children: Taya, a 13-year-old girl and three boys Rylan,12, Ayre,10, and Kayden Cockman, 8, after they were called to the scene early on Friday morning.
Police confirmed the father of the children, Aaron Cockman, was also shocked and was being provided with support.
“Police have spoken to the children’s father – he’s understandably grieving,” Commissioner Dawson said.
“We are providing him with as much support as we can and he’s in a place where he’s being provided support.”
Commissioner Dawson said he would not go into details about “motive or responsibility” at the press conference and also declined to offer details of the two-minute triple-0 phone call at 5.15am from “an adult male”.
“We know where the call was made from, we know whose phone it was made from. I have listened to the message,” Commissioner Dawson said.
Commissioner Dawson said while police and Homicide Squad detectives had come to some “preliminary conclusions”, he was not prepared to “go further” as forensic and technical investigations were still underway.
“I won’t say what was said in the call. It’s far too early for me and not right that I expand on that.
“You don’t have to be at a scene to feel the horror and the sadness around such a tragic event.”
Commissioner Dawson said only one of the bodies was found outside of the property’s two buildings, while one woman was located inside the main house and five people – a woman and four children – were found inside a converted shed.
Police are rarely seen in Osmington, a small rural area about 10-minute drive north-east of the Margaret River township, and home to eco-resorts, breweries, vineyards and prime farmland.
As the close-knit community of mostly small-acreage farmers reels at news of the shocking murder-suicide, a local resident who did not want to be named described the family as “hugely respected” and “a great asset to the community”.
“It’s just absolutely really shocking,” he told AAP.
“I can’t imagine just how disturbed someone is, how they could do that.”
Osmington resident Meg Janes, 68, who lives near the property where the shooting took place, told Perth Now she heard gunshots about 4am on Friday.
“Something woke me up around 4am. I heard quite a few gunshots and at the time I didn’t take much notice of it.
“I got up and went to the toilet and I thought, ‘That’s a bit strange, that’s an odd hour to be shooting kangaroos’,” she said.
“There’s a lot of kangaroos around so it’s not unusual, although not at that time of the morning. It wasn’t until I saw the police that I thought, ‘Hang on a minute’.
“[The shots] were separated out, there was quite a long gap between them. It wasn’t one after another.”
Augusta Margaret River shire president Pam Townshend said community members were rallying around each other and counselling services were being offered at the town’s Community Resource Centre.
“I wish to offer my condolences to the family and to the community about this terrible tragedy,” Cr Townshend said.
“I am absolutely devastated that this has happened in our community. It is such a small community and it will have such a huge effect. In this community we are so well connected.”
On the farm’s website, Cynda Miles said the property, which they reportedly bought in 2014, was their “forever farm”.
“Forever Dreaming is our forever farm. It is here that we will grow as much of our food as we can, sit on the veranda and watch the birds, and watch the grandchildren immerse themselves in the animals and everything else that happens on a daily basis,” she wrote.
Peter Miles worked as a farmer and teacher and was formerly the manager of the Margaret River High School farm, while his wife, Cynda, had been at the forefront of the sustainability community, leading recycling initiatives including Cynda’s Soft Salvage.
- Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.