News State QLD News Cairns victims identified
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Cairns victims identified

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Police have formally identified the eight children killed in a Cairns home.

They were four girls aged 14, 12, 11 and two, and four boys aged nine, eight, six and five.

The mother of of the seven youngest children has been arrested over their murders, but not yet charged. The oldest girl was her niece.

The 37-year-old mother of the children found dead in a Cairns home yesterday has been arrested for murder.

Cairns Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said the woman, Mersane Warria, the mother of seven of the eight children killed, was under police guard at hospital.

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The bodies of eight children were found following what was believed to be a multiple stabbing on Friday morning.

The children, aged from 18 months to 14 years, were found in Murray Street, Manoora, where the 37-year-old woman was also located.

“The 37-year-old mother of several of the children involved in this incident has been arrested for murder overnight and is currently under police guard at the Cairns Base Hospital,” he said.

“Overnight we had the forensic people in the house. The deceased have been removed from the house.

“Today we will have our coroner and pathologist conducting their investigations with the assistance of the family.”

Detective Inspector Asnicar said police are not looking for anyone else in relation to the deaths and are comfortable the community is safe.

He dismissed speculation the Manoora house had been the subject of calls from the Department of Social Services.

“It’s not a problem house, as has been speculated,” he said.

“This is an ordinary neighbourhood, a lot of good people, a lot of kids in the area. This is something that has caught everybody by surprise.”

Investigations are continuing throughout today and police said autopsies on the children would also occur today.

Police said a number of possible weapons including knives were located in the house.

Seven of the children found dead are siblings and the eighth child is a niece of the woman arrested, police said.

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

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.

Relationships Australia has set up an office close to the murder scene.

Spokeswoman Debra Bennett said the organisation is inviting people in the community to seek counselling there if they feel they need to speak to someone.

“There’ll be a whole range of support services so we encourage people to take advantage of that and to encourage other members of their family and the community if they feel they’re struggling with this experience. It’s really important that people don’t try to do this on their own,” she said.