A 35-year-old man, named as Charles Mihayo, will face the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday charged with the murder of two young sisters on Easter Sunday.
Emergency services found the bodies of Indianna, aged three, and Savannah, aged four, after they were called to a house on Longmuir Road in Watsonia, in Melbourne’s north-east.
Police have not released details of his relationship to the girls, but it has been widely reported that he was their father.
The sisters were at their grandmother’s house where their father lived in a flat behind the house.
Police have yet to reveal how the children died or give details of any injuries, but said a number of family members were home at the time.
“We are utterly devastated at the loss of Savannah and Indianna,” the family said in a statement released by Victoria Police on their behalf.
“The girls will be forever missed, loved and never forgotten.”
The family asked that their privacy be respected to allow time to grieve.
Police issued a statement early on Monday saying Mr Mihayo, of Watsonia, has been charged with the murder of both girls and remanded in custody.
— Madeline Slattery (@maddieslattery) April 20, 2014
Assistant Police Commissioner Andrew Crisp said it was a tragic set of circumstances with a number of police officers “in tears”.
“It goes without saying this is a tragic set of circumstances that has impacted on the family and there were a number of family members here at the time,” he said.
“It’s first of all impacted on friends, neighbours, and also on members of the fire brigade and the ambulance services and members of Victoria Police that have attended the scene.”
Assistant Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the tragedy had touched many.
Ambulance Victoria said paramedics treated two people in a critical condition there for some time, but could not be save them.
A friend of the girl’s mother Amelia Price, who was working full-time, told The Age he was in shock.
“I just can’t believe it,” he said. “She’s always talking about her kids. She’s always dotting on them. They were like the apple of her eye.”
A neighbour said the incident was hard to comprehend.
“(I feel) sick to the stomach,” he said. “It’s really hard to believe this could happen in a quiet little suburban street.”
Another neighbour said they had heard screams in the early afternoon.
“There were a couple of screams, a woman, that’s all I heard. And then the police were there,” the neighbour, who declined to be named, told Fairfax.
Strangers to the family had begun coming to the home to leave a tribute to the girls. Watsonia resident Helen Temple paid her respects to the children by leaving a flower.
“I heard it on the news, and just thought to put a flower for the girls,” she told Fairfax. “I have daughters too, and it’s so sad. Hope they rest in peace, poor things.”
—with AAP, ABC