In a case that has shocked Australia, a husband killed his wife and three kids by setting them alight in their car before stabbing himself to death next to it.
The horrific murder-suicide unfolded yesterday in the suburb of Camp Hill in Brisbane, Queensland.
Gym owner Rowan Charles Baxter, who’d been in the midst of a messy separation from his wife, Hannah (31), and had been stalking her for months, managed to “ambush” his family while they were in their family car.
As his kids – Aaliyah (6), Laianah (4) and Trey (3) – sat strapped in the back, he doused them and his estranged wife in petrol before setting them alight. Rowan then stabbed himself to death next to the burning vehicle.
While all three children died instantly, Hannah managed to get out of the car but was on fire. She was still alive as neighbours tried desperately to smother the flames and spray her with a garden hose.
She died hours later in hospital from horrific burns.
Tributes have been flooding in from all over Australia and Hannah’s distraught parents have painted a picture of a man consumed by resentment who became increasingly “frightening and monstrous”.
Lloyd and Suzanne Clarke said the murder-suicide was a result of a “downward spiral” which began when Hannah, who was tired of 11 years of an abusive marriage, left the marital home in early November last year.
“He was such a control freak that she just had to get the kids and go,” Lloyd told Daily Mail Australia.
“He kidnapped one of the kids on Boxing Day [26 December] and took her interstate for four days until the police got her back,” Suzanne recalled tearfully.
“He stayed with a mate who was an absolute animal and sent Hannah a disgusting email blaming her for everything.”
In a poignant post on Instagram, Dave Kramer, a trainer at the gym and a friend of Hannah’s, posted a photo of the family’s grieving dog looking up to the heavens.
“She’s made some new friends after losing everyone she loves,” wrote Dave, who’s adopted the dog, a Staffie named Savannah.
Savannah often appeared in social media photos with the young children who adored her.
Dave also paid tribute to his murdered friend and her kids and posted a heart-felt plea on Facebook, urging people struggling with depression and mental illness to see help.