A frightening and terrible multiple murder incident has left a family shattered.
Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, died in the inferno while Baxter, 42, who was badly burned, stabbed himself to death and died next to the burning Kia Sportage on Raven Street in Camp Hill, Brisbane, on Wednesday morning.
Hannah, 31, suffered horrific injuries and died hours later in hospital, despite the heroic efforts of neighbours who smothered the flames and sprayed her burns with a garden hose.
Hannah’s parents Lloyd and Suzanne Clarke said the cowardly murder-suicide was the end of a ‘downward spiral’ which began when Hannah, who was tired of 11 years in a controlling and abusive marriage, left in early November.
‘She had to get the kids and just go without saying anything, because he was such a control freak and would get into her headspace and she would give in,’ her shattered father Mr Clarke said on Thursday morning.
Baxter, a former NRL player, was occasionally allowed to see the children on weekends, but there was always tension, and even one assault, on drop offs and pickups.
‘He kidnapped (one of the kids) on Boxing Day and took her interstate for four days until the police got her back,’ Mrs Clarke said.
‘He stayed with a mate who was an absolute animal and sent Hannah a disgusting email blaming her for everything.’
The couple is still searching for answers about how Baxter managed to get inside the car and set it on fire.
They said he wasn’t allowed within 20m of her after a recent assault, and they didn’t see him that morning and have no idea why he was there.
‘We still don’t know how he got so close. He’s obviously ambushed her somehow, I’m sure she would not have stopped for him, she would be more likely to try to run over him,’ Mr Clarke said.
‘He had to hurt us because we’d beaten him. He was sprialling and had run out of people to sponge off. Looks like all of a sudden he decided there was only one way out.’
The couple believed Baxter was obsessively tracking his estranged wife’s phone and location by hacking her device – forcing her to frequently change her passwords.
He sent Hannah suspicious attachments and ‘knew things he shouldn’t have known’.
‘He was going through her phone and tracking her whereabouts. It was really scary,’ Mrs Clarke said.
Baxter responded to his wife leaving him with hatred, hostility, pettiness, and even violence, her parents said.
‘Everything got worse after she left as he couldn’t control the situation anymore,’ Mrs Clarke said.
Her husband added: ‘He thought he was hard done by and wanted 50 per cent of custody and we knew that couldn’t work, the guy didn’t work, he couldn’t support his own family. It started getting ugly.’