News State QLD News Home ‘locked down for days’

Home ‘locked down for days’

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Police will return this morning to the far north Queensland house where eight children were found dead yesterday to continue the investigation into their deaths.

Police said the suburban Cairns home will be locked down for several days while forensic officers conduct their work.

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Acting Chief superintendent Russell Miller said the investigation would take time and officers from Brisbane and Townsville arrived yesterday afternoon to assist with the complex investigation.

The bodies of eight children were found following a multiple stabbing.

Cairns children murder
A mother and daughter pay their respects. Photo: Getty

The children, aged from 18 months to 15 years, were found Friday morning in Murray Street, Manoora, where a woman was also located with chest and neck wounds.

Police said they believed the 34-year-old was the mother of seven of the children. They said she was in a stable condition in Cairns Hospital and was helping with their enquiries.

Relatives and community in shock following tragedy

Relatives and neighbours were in tears as news of the tragedy spread and police and emergency service workers were visibly distressed by the confronting scene.

The Premier and Prime Minister both offered messages of support to the local community.

Dozens of police helped establish a crime scene after being contacted around 11:20am (AEST) on Friday.

Media agency AAP spoke to a woman who said she was a cousin of the woman speaking to police.

She said a 20-year-old man arrived home to find his siblings dead.

Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said the injured woman was not in police custody and there were no formal suspects at this stage.

“As it stands at the moment, there’s no need for the public to be concerned about this other than the fact that it’s a tragic, tragic event,” he said.

“The situation is well controlled at the moment.

The tragedy has hit the small community very hard. Photo: AAP

“There shouldn’t be any concern for anyone else out of this environment.”

Larry Woosup, a relative of the children, said the adults who lived in the house were his niece and nephew.

“I just heard about it. My family just rang because they’re worried about our sister,” he said.

“Some of them are my sister’s kids.

“I just got a phone call from my son’s mother from down in Mackay because they had seen the news flash down there.

“This is a close neighbourhood, this Murray Street. I’m desperate like everyone else to hear [what happened].”

Neighbour Bessie Mareko said she did not know those in the house but would say hello when they were in the street.

Ms Mareko said she saw the woman and a number of children at 2:00am cleaning up their home and putting unwanted items on the street on Friday.

“I’m really shocked. I just saw her this morning on the verandah with her kids,” she said.

Candlelight vigil, church service organised to honour victims

Dozens of residents attended a candlelight vigil at Munro Martin Park on Friday afternoon, while others placed flowers outside the house in Murray Street.

Colette Petterson organised the vigil to honour the dead children.

“I think it’s extremely important that people do that especially like this time at Christmas,” she said.

“It’s just so emotional. It’s just been the worst couple of weeks.”

Talitha Power was among those who went to pay their respects.

“It was the only way I could see to do something about it,” she said.

“It’s very shocking, especially in a little place like this. It’s a little tight-knit community.”

Early Friday night a church service was held with attendees observing eight minutes of silence for each of the children killed.

Pastor Michael Dalla Vecchia said the suburb was home to a tight-knit community with a great sense of family.

He said the loss of life was a tragedy.

“As a community we need to stick together. It’s been a tough week obviously with the hostage sieges at the start of the week we thought ‘oh, how can it get any worse in Australia’ and this is on our back door step,” he said.

“So basically our message is just ‘let’s stick together, let’s be a shoulder to cry on and let’s get through this and move through this as a community’.”

Yesterday, Emergency responders to the scene were visibly upset while many of the bystanders in the street were in shock and in tears.

“These events are extremely distressing for everyone of course, and police officers aren’t immune from that. We’re human beings as well,” Detective Inspector Asnicar said.

“However, the police that we have here are very highly trained and professional people and they’re going about their job in a way that I would expect them to and the QPS would expect them to.

“We are missing nothing as far as conducting this investigation.”

From the scene

“Police are refusing to identify if anyone is a suspect yet. They are merely saying that they are speaking to a large number of people – family members, neighbours, people who have known the family for a long period of time.

“They say it’s going to be a painstaking and lengthy investigation, involving police that have been flown up from Brisbane and Townsville, officers with specialist skills and officers who specialise in homicide investigations.

People here are absolutely devastated. We saw many people turn up to the crime scene, people who were family of the dead children, so distraught, such confronting scenes of people in terrible grief.

“There have also been a large number of people who I guess didn’t know the family who have still turned out with floral tributes. Also people who have been waiting around the area of the crime scene, watching to see what’s happening.

“People I’ve spoken to have said that it’s a terrible and shocking crime, and particularly sad so close to Christmas.”

– ABC reporter Sharnie Kim

“It’s a street that’s only a couple of minutes’ drive from my own family home, and having been there so many times and attending community concerts in a park across from where this tragedy occurred …

“It’s just a tragedy that is really very difficult to come to terms with.”

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning offered his condolences to the family and friends of the victims and asked the community to “unite and display sympathy for those directly affected by this incident and respect for the police and other authorities who now must go about this difficult work”.

Premier Campbell Newman said he was deeply saddened and shocked by the tragedy.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those concerned,” he said in a statement.

“I’m also aware of the impact this will have on the emergency service workers and police officers who responded to the scene, and I have asked the Acting Ministers to make sure those individuals are receiving the support they need.

“Indeed, the whole Cairns community and the people of Queensland will feel the effects of this tragedy, particularly at a time of year when families come together.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said news of the “unspeakable crime” was “heartbreaking”.

“All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened,” he said in a statement.

“These are trying days for our country. There will be tears and prayers across our country for these children.”