The community of Cairns, Australia is in shock today after eight children were found dead in a suburban Manoora home. Police are said to have received a call at 11.20am Queensland time. It is reported that a 20-year-old man had discovered the bodies when he returned to the home at 34 Murray St. after a trip to the shops.
At this stage many of the details are unclear or unknown. It is believed that the children were aged between 18 months and 15 years. A 34-year-old woman who was also found at the scene had received serious injuries to her body and neck, and was taken to a Cairns hospital where she was said to be in a stable condition. Police said the woman was not in custody but was assisting them with their investigations. According to The Australian, police have also taken DNA and blood samples from the woman.
The relationship between the woman and the children has not yet been confirmed, though it is believed she was their mother. It is also believed that the eight children were all siblings of the man who found them at the home.
Police have said the incident is isolated and that they did not consider there to be concerns for anyone else. Cairns Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar, told reporters that the crime scene had been locked down to everyone but the forensic team. “That includes me,” he said.
Detective Asnicar said the crime scene would remain locked down until the forensic people had completed their investigations, adding that he expected them to be there for several days. He also said they would be unable to confirm the relationships of the children and the woman until the forensic investigations have been completed. “This is not a small job; we’re not taking this lightly at all,” he said.
Australian Prime Minster Tony Abbott, expressed the country’s shock after the eight children were found dead in Cairns, just days after the tragic events in the Sydney Lindt cafe. Mr Abbott described it as “unspeakable.” “These are trying days for our country,” he said. Reporters and police have described the situation as being one of Queensland’s worst crime scenes in recent memory.
Australia’s Torres Straight Island Regional Council Mayor Fred Gela, said the 34-year-old woman was a cousin. He said the community, which is predominantly Torres Straight Islander and Aboriginal, was coming together to grieve. Later the council released a statement asking that the family’s name was withheld until all members had been alerted and informed of the deaths. The statement also asked that privacy and cultural responsibilities were respected.
While bunches of flowers were laid outside the Murray St home, a candlelight vigil was being held in a nearby park to honor the dead children. Colette Petterson, the vigil’s organizer said, “It’s just so emotional. It’s just been the worst couple of weeks.” Eight minutes of silence was held for the eight children, during another vigil at a local church.
Many neighbors and friends have told reporters that the children and the woman are their cousins, others have said their children all played with the eight found dead in the home. One man Larry Woosup told reporters that his niece and nephew lived in the house. A spokeswoman for the Department of Communities, who it is understood owns the Manoora home, said they are sending a specialist team to assist the community with “human and social recovery.”
Queensland Police Services is also sending support with additional specialist and forensic officers from Townsville and Brisbane, south of Cairns, to assist with the investigations at the crime scene, which are expected to remain cordoned off for several days. Australian police said on Friday that they had not yet identified any suspects in the tragic events that found eight children dead in Cairns, and left Australia in shock for a second time in under a week.
By Monica Grant
Photo by coloneljohnbritt – Flickr License