The father of a former Christchurch woman killed in a suspected murder-suicide is racing across the ditch to help with funeral arrangements.

Stacey Docherty, 38, and her son, Seth, who is 4 in June, were found dead on Monday afternoon in the Sydney apartment they shared.

Docherty's former partner Matt Davis told the Herald he knew something was amiss when he turned up to visit the pair after work on Monday and discovered the front door locked, a smell of gas and her phone ringing inside.

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Davis immediately called police who eventually made the gruesome discovery.

Australian media reported the pair suffered knife wounds and that there were bloodied messages written on the wall.

However, Davis said he'd spoken to police who hadn't been able to confirm it and at this stage he and Docherty's family were still dealing with their deaths.

Docherty's Christchurch-based father, David, is also making his way to Sydney to help organise the funeral, which will be a joint one.

He today spoke with Docherty's Sydney-based family - her two sisters, Kelly and Rebecca, as well as their mother.

"We're all shattered but we are now getting to the point where we can make arrangements to put them to rest."

Davis and Docherty were together for about five years, he said, but eventually broke up due to their "tumultuous" relationship which was aggravated by her drinking.

"She was a very feisty character ... we had a pretty good relationship but like anything there's trying times."

Police at the apartment block of former Christchurch woman Stacey Docherty and her four year old son Seth who were found dead inside. Photo/Newscorp
Police at the apartment block of former Christchurch woman Stacey Docherty and her four year old son Seth who were found dead inside. Photo/Newscorp

However, they met up a couple of years later and tried to get back together. During that time, Seth was born, and they discovered they wouldn't work.

"When Seth was born we weren't living together and weren't together but we agreed that even though we had our own differences we would co-parent and try and bring him up as best we can."

Davis lived in Bondi and Docherty in Maroubra. Despite their ups and downs, and her "volatile temper" brought on by mental health issues, the pair got on relatively well.

He said she also suffered from agoraphobia - in her case an anxiety issue to do with the fear of people for which she was seeing a psychiatrist about.

"She didn't really get on with people so she secluded herself a fair bit."

In hindsight, he believed she was suffering a lot more than she was letting on, he said.

In recent months Docherty - who had lived in Sydney for about 17 years - had met a new boyfriend who belonged to a local surf gang dubbed the Bra Boys.

However, on Friday, Docherty had called Davis distraught saying the pair had broken up and that she was due to be out of her apartment by Monday but hadn't arranged anywhere else to go.

The pair were about to head into a custody battle, Davis said, as he wasn't getting to see enough of his son.

But he put that aside on Friday night and headed over to comfort Docherty, eventually staying as he had work in the area on Saturday.

"I tried to get some sort of game plan together to help her move."

She had heaps of stuff as she was a collector of antiques, a hobby she took up after quitting her job as a nursing assistant in aged care homes.

Stacey and Seth. Photo / via Facebook
Stacey and Seth. Photo / via Facebook

He went back after work on Saturday, helped her re-start her car and begin packing, eventually having "some nice family time together".

However, by Sunday, the new boyfriend had decided he wanted her back and was to go and visit so he left. Just a few hours later she again called, upset, saying that she'd ended it again.

The next time he heard from her was a text on Monday morning saying to come around after work and she would leave the door open for him. But she didn't.

"I got there and when I got upstairs I thought I could smell gas and the door was locked with a deadlock on it. Normally when I would knock and Seth would know I was coming over, he would come running to the door ... but there was no noise, no sound, no Seth which started to make my alarm bells ring so I started bashing the door a lot harder.

"I was ringing her phone and I could hear it ringing and so I then called the police and from there it escalated. And so now it's actually a murder-suicide investigation."

Neither he or her family have been told anything else since and simply kept in a "tragic holding pattern" waiting to find out what happened.

"It's all hearsay at the moment. We really don't know what went on, how she did what she did. I have no information on it and I'm not going to speculate on it."

It is understood the mother and son had knife-related injuries consistent with murder-suicide, but police were not ruling out a third person could be involved, Australian media reported.

Davis said he loved them both "dearly".

"I loved my son fantastically, he was the only child I had. Stacey was a really loving, great mum. She did have some mental health issues which distorted what she did, but in general she was a funny, loving mum. We did have our differences but we got on pretty well."

A date for the funeral is yet to be set.

The Minsitry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) said it was aware of the deaths of Docherty and her son, and was providing consular assistance to their next of kin.

"The family has requested that their privacy be respected during this difficult time."

Helplines

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)

Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)

Youthline: 0800 376 633

Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)

Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)

Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.