SYDNEY (dpa) – The 37-year-old mother of seven of the eight children found dead in a house in Cairns in northern Australia was arrested for their murders, broadcaster ABC reported Saturday.
The woman was found with stab wounds to her upper body and neck shortly before midday Friday and taken to hospital.
The 20-year-old brother of the children made the discovery around 11am when he visited the house, it was reported. Inside the house, police found the bodies of eight children, many of them stabbed to death. The mother and an as-yet unidentified person were found alive and hospitalised.
“The 37-year-old mother of several of the children involved in this incident has been arrested for murder overnight and is currently under police guard at the Cairns Base Hospital,” Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar told reporters Saturday.
“Overnight we had the forensic people in the house. The deceased have been removed from the house. Today we will have our coroner and pathologist conducting their investigations with the assistance of the family.”
The mother is under close watch by police in hospital. She is lucid and speaking with police, Asnicar said. Asnicar said police are not looking for anyone else in relation to the deaths and are comfortable the community is safe. He said the incident caught everybody by surprise in an ordinary neighbourhood with lots of good people and a lot of children in the area.
Seven of the eight children found dead were siblings and the eighth child is a niece of the arrested woman.
The children were boys aged 5, 6, 8 and 9 years and girls aged 2, 11, 12 and 14 years, the police said on Twitter.
“We will not be releasing the names of the children who died for cultural reasons,” the police added. Neighbours told reporters they heard screams and shouts from the house the night before police were called.
One neighbour told News Limited she heard a cry from the house saying, “Don’t let them take them away from us. God bless us. Forgive me for what I’ll do.”