They heard noises from next door as they watched TV, says neighbour Jade Whaley, but every time they went to check everything was calm.
The Dickason family had moved into the apartment a week before in Timaru, a city in the South Island of New Zealand, after spending two weeks in quarantine after arriving in the country.
“I told my husband to turn off the TV and we went outside to see what was going on, but we didn’t see anything,” Jade tells YOU.
They went back inside but heard another loud noise.
“It sounded like a bang. We went outside again, and everything was quiet. We wondered what was going on but went back inside.”
At around 10pm they heard a man crying, Jade says.
“He was sobbing loudly. We went outside once again and we saw this man crying and being comforted by another man. The ambulance came and we saw a woman being helped into it by two other people.”
Lauren Dickason (40), a doctor from Pretoria, was taken into custody on Friday in connection with the murders of her daughters, Liane (6) and two-year-old twins Maya and Karla.
Laura’s husband, Graham, is also a doctor and worked as an orthopaedic surgeon at a private hospital in Pretoria.
“We can confirm that a 40-year-old woman has been arrested in connection with the murder of three children in Timaru,” police said in a statement.
Jade says police cordoned off the unit and police were still on the scene on Friday morning.
“It’s so horrible what happened. My heart . . . These people had been here barely a week and now the woman has been arrested. Can you imagine what that man must be going through?”
Jade says the family had been quiet since moving in next door. “I work from home and I didn’t hear anything unusual coming from their apartment.”
Another neighbour, Karen Cowper, and her husband, Brad, also heard a man screaming and sobbing that night and called the police.
“We asked him if he was okay but he didn’t respond. He just kept crying hysterically,” Karen told YOU. “I heard him saying, ‘is this really happening?’”
Lauren will soon appear in the Timaru district court.