Police are investigating whether the horrific car crash that claimed the lives of a mother and her four children may have been a suspected murder-suicide, after a handwritten note was reportedly found close to the scene.
Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has confirmed that homicide detectives have been brought in to investigate the tragedy, after mum-of-four Charmaine Harris McLeod, 35, and her four children, Aaleyn, six, Matilda, five, Wyatt, four, and Zaidok, two, all died in the crash.
Queensland Police initially said the collision happened when a Nissan station wagon pulled out to overtake a truck, and was then hit by an oncoming truck on the Bunya Highway near Kumbia, just after 7pm on Monday.
Both vehicles burst into flames, with the driver and three of the children pronounced dead at the scene. Another child sadly died en route to hospital.
Now the police commissioner has explained why their deaths haven’t been added to the national road toll yet, telling reporters in a video shared by 7 News that there are different rules surrounding a road crash where there’s suspicion it may have been intentional.
“There (are) very specific rules about traffic crashes that occur when these … it’s not intentional, in other words it’s a straight crash,” he said.
“But there are very different rules – that’s why we now have homicide detectives working on this case – where there is a potential that there was an intention for someone to die.
“This will take some time and obviously the coroner has a very great interest in the outcome of that investigation.”
When asked if the crash was being investigated as a homicide, he added: “Absolutely.”
It comes as The Courier Mail reported that police found a note – believed to have been written by the mother herself – about 200m from the crash scene.
It’s that discovery, plus an absence of skid marks at the scene, that reportedly prompted the homicide detectives to get involved.
According to the news outlet, McLeod’s ex-partner is now questioning why she was driving three hours away from her Hervey Bay home in the first place.
It comes after the heartbroken father of the children broke his silence and issued an emotional statement.
“I love them very much and they will be surely missed with all of my heart,” he said in a statement.
“They were beautiful souls and were loved by all who knew them.”
Meanwhile, Kawungan State School, which Aaleyn and Matilda attended, issued an emotional statement on Facebook.
“We are deeply saddened by a traffic vehicle accident affecting the McLeod family from our lower school,” the statement read. “We extend our sincere sympathies to their family, friends and loved ones at this difficult time. Aaleyn and Matilda will be deeply missed.”