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Australia is in shock as police have now arrested a mother for the murder of eight children in Cairns on Friday. Seven of the children were her own, the eighth was her niece. The woman 37-year-old Mersane Warria, was charged on Sunday in a hearing at her bedside in Cairns hospital where the mother is being treated for self-inflicted stab wounds.
While police have not fully determined the manner in which the children were killed, more than 100 witnesses have given statements. Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar of the Queensland Police, said a number of knives from the home were being examined. He also said suffocation was being considered as a possible cause. Dect. Asnicar added that the investigation was taking some time, as a range of things were being taken into consideration.
The detective, who has been involved with the situation since Friday, said autopsies were currently being conducted on the children’s bodies. Asnicar said the case was now in the hands of the court and that police will not release the autopsy results at this time. He added that the children’s five fathers have all been informed of the tragic events, and advised that the children would not be named due to “cultural sensitivities.”
Police have said they are not considering any more suspects in the case. Warria has been excused from attending a hearing, which has been set for Monday. Police said they will oppose any bail requests by the Australian mother who was arrested for the shocking murder of the eight children.
Warria and her seven children lived together at the Manoora home where the murders took place. The eighth child, Warria’s teenage niece who was visiting the home, was due to celebrate her 14th birthday on Saturday. Her father said that the last time he saw his daughter, she had told him she loved him. He said, “she was beautiful.”
Warria’s traditionally adopted brother, Michael Gela, said that she was young, had a good personality and was always polite. He said the family came from Erub Island, a Torres Strait community in Australia’s far north. Dect. Asnicar said they had dismissed suggestions that the Department of Social Services had been concerned with issues at the Murray St. home. He said it was a very ordinary neighborhood and the murders were a surprise to everyone.
A family relative told Australia’s Seven Network, that Warria’s 20-year-old son discovered the bodies on Friday morning. The man had returned to the Murray St. home after a brief trip to the shops. Police said the children’s elder sibling had been questioned, but was not considered a suspect.
Family, friends and neighbors have been laying flowers outside the house and in a nearby park. Candlelight vigils have been held to honor the dead children, and on Sunday morning there was a church service was held. Neighbors have said the family was never noisy and wasn’t known for causing problems.
Local member of parliament Gavin King, said it was difficult to come to terms with the situation, saying he frequently visited residents in the tight-knit community. In a statement, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that the news was “heartbreaking.”
The young Australian mother was arrested for murdering the eight children only days after the country was shocked by the tragic hostage situation in a Sydney Lindt cafe. Relationships Australia has organized an office near to the crime scene and has invited the community to seek counseling. Mr Abbott has described these as “trying days” for Australia.
By Monica Grant
Photo by Francisco Martins – Flickr License