The man who burned his family to death was a "master manipulator" who was jealous of his estranged wife and controlled every aspect of her life, according to the victim's parents.
Three children, Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4 and Trey, 3, were found dead inside a burning vehicle on Raven St in Brisbane's Camp Hill after police were called to the scene about 8.30am on Wednesday. The mother of the children, Hannah Clarke, 31, reportedly screamed "he poured petrol on me" when she was pulled from the car. She later died of her injuries in hospital.
According to witnesses, the father, Rowan Baxter, 42, jumped into his estranged wife's car while she was on the school run and set it on fire before yelling at bystanders to stop helping, then taking his own life.
He was on a restraining order for having taken one of the couple's children across state borders against Clarke's wishes when he ambushed and murdered his family. Baxter was declared dead on site after emergency crews attempted to revive him.
In early January, a Brisbane magistrate granted the police application for a domestic violence order (DVO) to protect Clarke and their children, 7 News reports.
Then, earlier this month, Baxter allegedly breached the DVO by contacting Clarke.
QLD Police responded to the incident by serving Baxter with a Notice To Appear for the breach and he was due to face court in March.
"I can confirm that Queensland police have engaged with both Hannah and her estranged husband in relation to domestic violence issues," Brisbane Detective Inspector Mark Thompson told a media conference on Thursday.
Relatives say Baxter was stalking her every move and knew that Clarke was a creature of habit who followed a regular morning routine. On Wednesday at about 6.30am, just like every other day, she texted her coffee order to Blackbird Espresso, a few minutes drive from her parents' house, The Australian reports.
"It was just another day for her," barista Helene Nguyen told the paper.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Clarke's parents Lloyd and Suzanne Clarke said the killer had been controlling and emotionally abusive since the start of the pair's relationship 11 years ago – when Hannah was just 20. The devastated couple described their former son-in-law as a "master manipulator" who tried to isolate their daughter from friends and family.
"We always had misgivings about him," Suzanne Clarke told the site.
"He was always controlling, he ruined her relationship with everyone, even tried to get her away from us.
"We'd go down to the coast and if they turned up and saw us there, they would go to another beach."
MENTAL HEALTH - WHERE TO GET HELP
If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• 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)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - DO YOU NEED HELP?
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you're in danger now:
• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay
Where to go for help or more information:
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843
• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• Ministry of Justice:
• National Network of Stopping Violence:
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women, focusing this year on sexual violence and the issue of consent.
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