Neighbours and friends of the Perinovics are trying to understand how a seemingly happy family home become the scene of a horror crime.
Neighbours and friends of the Perinovics are trying to understand how a seemingly happy family home become the scene of a horror crime.

Mother's role in killing of three children revealed

The mother found dead with her three children in their Tullamarine home has been held responsible for the quadruple fatality in a tragic murder-suicide.

 

Victoria Police homicide detectives have formed the view 42-year-old Katie Perinovic killed her children before taking her own life after analysing the crime scene and interviewing the children's distraught father, Tomislav Perinovic.

The grieving father found the bodies of his wife and children inside the family home in Burgess St and made a frantic call to triple-zero on Thursday at 12.20pm.

Homicide Squad detectives will prepare a report for the coroner over the deaths of Ms Perinovic and her three children children Claire, 7, Anna, 5, and three-year-old Matthew.

All were residents of the property.

Mr Perinovic, 48, who also resided at the house, was questioned by police on Friday night and was released without charge.

Homicide detectives also spoke to a large number of people, including the family, friends, and neighbours of the deceased.

An extensive forensic examination of the house was also conducted.

Victoria Police released a statement today saying it would prepare a report for the Coroner.


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''Investigators do not believe the 48-year-old man was involved in the incident and police are not looking for anyone further in relation to the matter,'' a Victoria Police statement said.

''Homicide Squad investigators have formed the preliminary view that the 42-year-old woman is responsible for all four deaths and on completion of their investigation, a report will be provided for consideration of the coroner.''

Victoria Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Bob Hill said there would be life-long impacts of the tragedy.

"I know there will be many people in the community struggling to understand and come to terms with this tragedy,'' Mr Hill said.

''Police will particularly work to support the families of those involved over the coming weeks and ensure they have the help they need.

"This has also been an incredibly difficult time for both the police and paramedics who responded and attended the scene yesterday.

"This has been an incredibly heart-wrenching experience for all concerned."

EARLIER

Twenty hours before the horror of a slaughtered family hit Burgess Street, something seemed a little wrong about the woman who loved children so much she'd had three of them in four years.

One of the local parents had just arrived from a trip to the country around 4pm on Wednesday, and was chatting to a neighbour when they saw "Katie from next door" wander past and then walk up the driveway of a different house - not the one where she has lived with her husband and rapidly growing family for about eight years.

There was nothing "bad" about it, but her actions were a little odd. Then she said something to the house owner, Freddie, that also seemed a little odd.

Katie was not her usual happy self.

It was nothing much at the time, something that would soon be forgotten in the humdrum daily routines of suburban life. That's if it wasn't for one terrible thing … by noon next day, Katie and her three children were dead.

No matter how circumspect the police were yesterday, they were considering only two scenarios: either Katie killed her three children and then herself, or else someone else killed all four.

Tomislav and Katie Perinovic lived in Tullamarine with their three children.
Tomislav and Katie Perinovic lived in Tullamarine with their three children.

In such circumstances, it is automatic that investigators seek the nearest and dearest, in this case the distraught father and husband seen with shocked police yesterday.

No normal person is not shaken by the fact of children dying violently, one of the reasons police work takes its toll on those who see things than cannot be unseen.

It is obvious that investigators are keeping extremely open minds about the circumstances, scrupulously avoiding any hint that could be misconstrued as blaming a living offender.

Until you see the police cars with their blinking lights, the crime scene tape blocking off an entire street, and television broadcast vans jockeying for position in the normally quiet street, this part of Tullamarine is the sort of drowsy suburban heartland made famous in the evergreen film The Castle.

 

People pace flowers at the house in Tullamarine.
People pace flowers at the house in Tullamarine.

 

A touching note
A touching note

 

Apart from the fact that Burgess Street is further from the flight path of the Melbourne airport than the Kerrigans' home, it is that sort of place. Friendly but unpretentious.

The fact that three children between the ages of three and seven died here violently underlines the fact that suburbs like this are mostly about families and kids.

Driving into Dawson Street to reach Burgess Street, a visitor sees a series of streets named after some past developer or councillor's children: Dianne, Larissa and Kirk and more.

Then there's a corner playground where local kids can play when they are little and hang around when they get a bit older.

Katie (top right) and her three children were found dead in a Tullamarine home.
Katie (top right) and her three children were found dead in a Tullamarine home.

Walk half a block past the Burgess Street corner and you hit the milk bar corner with its little row of shops where locals pick up their milk and bread.

Outside the death house is a huge and beautiful gum tree that might have been growing here before any of the first homes were built in the 1960s and 1970s.

Gums like this attract a noisy flock of parakeets that chatter and cackle in the branches above the gardens, a happy sound of summer in what is suddenly an unhappy place.

Around the corner, maybe 75m from the house where four bodies were found, is another average family home, with kids' bikes dropped near the porch.

The young mother who lives there had come back from her morning coffee with friends in Strathmore yesterday morning when she heard yelling that caught her attention and made her uneasy.

It was different from when a neighbour raises a voice at a naughty child, she recalled later.

It was so loud, for a start. And it wasn't loud because it was next door: the sound was actually carrying across several backyards from Burgess Street.

She now is sure it was Katie, upset about something, agitated and emotional.

Not swearing or abusive but not quite right. This was, she guesses, only minutes before the children were killed. She guesses it was about 11.45am. She heard the first sirens maybe half an hour later, when the alarm was raised and the nightmare began.

Burgess Street is a microcosm of modern urban Australia, a street that could be in any of the Australian capital cities.

Walk around here and talk to people and it is clear they come from a dozen ethnic origins and get along well. Most of them are raising families and doing the best they can. The neighbours liked Katie and her husband, describing them as "loving" and focused on their children.

Katie's husband, the children's father Tom, was often seen helping them ride their bikes or playing with them in the yard or the street.

They said he had owned the house and lived there alone before he married Katie maybe eight years ago.

The couple, both tall people and thought to share the same Slavic background and Catholic faith, had married in their mid-to-late 30s and immediately started their family.

Katie's mother, the neighbours thought, dropped in regularly to help mind the children. In other words, they were just the usual happy family until they weren't.

Which no one seemed to know until something terrible came to a head around noon on a perfect summer's day.

andrew.rule@news.com.au

 

Originally published as Tight-knit community rocked by Tullamarine tragedy

Katie and Tomislav had three children.
Katie and Tomislav had three children.


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