The estranged wife of a former Australian rugby player is dead along with the couple’s three young kids after he apparently set their car on fire with all of them inside, according to witnesses.
Multiple media reports out of Brisbane say the former New Zealand Warriors player Rowan Baxter, 42, also died after allegedly stabbing himself at the suburban scene of the attack on Wednesday morning.
Baxter’s estranged wife, Hannah, 31, emerged from the burning car yelling, “He’s poured petrol on me!”, one witness told The Australian. She was taken from the scene and died later at a hospital.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the deaths as “devastating” in a message on Twitter.
“How the fire actually occurred has not been ascertained at the moment, so for us to call it a murder-suicide or a tragic accident, it’s inappropriate at this stage,” Detective Inspector Mark Thompson told reporters at the scene, according to News.com.au.
Police were called to the car fire about 8:30 a.m. and said in a statement that three children, ages 6, 4 and 3, were found dead inside the vehicle, reports CNN.
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9News reported that Rowan Baxter was seen allegedly buying a can of fuel from a nearby petrol station before the incident.
At the time of the incident he and his wife were engaged in a custody dispute, according to The Courier Mail.
Rowan and Hannah Baxter together owned a Brisbane-based fitness company, Integr8, and Rowan worked as a trainer with professional sports clubs following his stint as a professional rugby player, reports FoxSports.
According to 9News, Hannah and the couple’s three children had been staying with her parents in the Camp Hill neighborhood of Brisbane where the incident occurred.
Rowan’s Facebook posts are filled with photos of his children. “Love you to the moon and back,” he wrote to accompany a photo of his son, Trey, on February 13, along with “#daddy.”
“Goodnight my babies,” he wrote on another post, dated January 10. “Daddy loves you.”
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