Australia has reacted with shock, anger, and mourning after the deaths of Queensland woman Hannah Baxter and her three young children, who are thought to have been murdered by her estranged husband in Brisbane’s Camp Hill yesterday morning.
Citing eyewitnesses, Nine News reports Baxter, 31, and her children, Laianah, 6, Aaliyah, 4, and Trey, 3, were driving to school when Rowan Baxter, her estranged partner and father of the children, allegedly doused the vehicle with petrol and set it alight.
All three children died at the scene. Hannah Baxter was rushed to Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital where she died from her injuries last night.
Nine News reports Rowan Baxter died near the scene of the fire from a self-inflicted stab wound.
Speaking to the media last night, QLD Police Detective Inspector Mark Thompson said a major crime scene had been established, describing the circumstances as “horrific” and “terrible.”
While Thompson said it is currently “inappropriate” for police to comment on the precise circumstances of the incident, investigations are ongoing.
The incident has spurred public tributes from those close to Hannah Baxter, and from strangers saddened by the senseless tragedy.
Taking to Facebook, Stacey Roberts, who identified herself as Hannah Baxter’s sister-in-law, wrote, “For all those who knew Hannah, or had even just met her once would know how much of a beautiful soul she was, her children where her life.
“All she ever wanted was happiness. Her children were only a reflection of her.”
In a letter to parents of students at Belmont State School, principal Lisa Morrison said, “The school community’s thoughts and sincere sympathies go out to the family, caregivers, friends and loved ones of the students during this difficult time,” adding that counselling support was available to those who needed it.
Taking to Twitter, anti-domestic violence agency Our Watch said staff were in mourning.
We are mourning the death of #HannahBaxter, who was violently killed with her three children today. Our thoughts are with her family and her friends.
— Our Watch (@OurWatchAus) February 19, 2020
That sentiment was echoed by Labor MP Tanya Plibersek, who said Hannah Baxter and her three young children are “the latest victims of family violence.”
Hannah Baxter and her children are the latest victims of family violence. Too many women and too many children lost. https://t.co/z6AAOsOzgV
— Tanya Plibersek (@tanya_plibersek) February 19, 2020
ABC deputy chair Dr. Kirstin Ferguson said she hopes Hannah Baxter’s “murder and the murder of her three children may finally prompt a reaction to throw everything we have at ending the scourge of family violence we see every single week in Australia.”
What is our tipping point for saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH? When do we make family violence a national priority? How many more murders like that of #HannahBaxter do we need before action follows?
— Kirstin Ferguson (@kirstinferguson) February 19, 2020
Feminist author and activist Clementine Ford said the incident was a heartbreaking example of a nation-wide problem.
The same sentiment has been repeated elsewhere, with Australians left infuriated by the circumstances.
I want to do say good morning beautiful peoples but I can’t find the right words today. The death of #HannahBaxter and her beautiful children at the hands of the man who should’ve loved and protected them has numbed me, as it has most of the nation. I send love today. ♥️
— Prof Anita Heiss AM (@AnitaHeiss) February 19, 2020
Her name is Hannah Baxter.
Her babies’ names are Aaliyah, 6; Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3.
And our hearts are broken.
— Harriet Shing MP (@ShingvWorld) February 19, 2020
own children cannot blame it on “struggling” with a relationship breakdown, his career also irrelevant.
— I’m just Emma 👑 (@emma_husar) February 19, 2020
A crowdfunding campaign which says it is collecting funds for funeral costs has raised more than $50,000.
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about domestic violence, please call the 1800
Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.