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Police believe mum killed her children

The Australian
13 January 2011

Father of two lashes out after tragedy
By Pia Akerman

439 views (42 KB)
The father of two children who were likely to have been killed by their mother in a Melbourne house fire has attacked Victorian government.

Authorities allowed his children to stay with his former partner who, he said, had been mentally ill for years following the cot death of their baby son.

Melanie Maher, 13, and her brother Matthew, 11, died on Sunday afternoon after a violent argument between their older half-sister and mother.

Police believe the mother, Kylie Fowler, had attacked her oldest daughter Sammantha, 18, and Matthew with a knife and then set the house on fire, killing them all.

Dom Maher, father of Melanie and Matthew, said he blamed the authorities for returning the children to their mother.

"They (the authorities) knew there was a problem and they didn't fix it," said Mr Maher, who has lived in Hobart since 2007.

"I do hold them responsible. They haven't allowed me to protect my children."

A government spokesman refused to comment on the case while police were still investigating.

Mr Maher had not seen his children since 2007, saying Ms Fowler had stayedout of touch.

He said while an illness had never been diagnosed, he believed his ex-partner had post-natal depression for years.

The couple's last child, Michael, was born in 2000 but died in his cot seven weeks after birth. "Ever since that day, it was like something had snapped inside her," he said.

"I tried to stay in touch but she didn't want to be found."

Mr Maher said government workers had refused to give him the family's address, citing privacy issues, but he tracked Ms Fowler down to her Heidelberg Heights house only last Tuesday.



The Age (Melbourne)
12 January 2011

Facebook tributes to children killed in murder-suicide blaze
By Megan Levy, with Paul Millar, Reid Sexton

Three children believed to have been killed by their mother in a fiery murder-suicide at Heidelberg Heights have been remembered as ''beautiful people'' on a Facebook tribute page set up in their memory.

Police are undertaking the grim task of contacting the relatives of 36-year-old Kylie Maher, who is suspected to have stabbed her son Matthew, 11, and daughter Sammantha, 18, then died in a blaze with her youngest daughter Melanie, 13, after torching their home on Sunday.

The teenage boyfriend of Sammantha is distraught after failing to gain entry to the house, where his partner lay bleeding after she had been stabbed.

All those who died stayed at the home, except for Sammantha who had been living in Skye, near Frankston.

An autopsy revealed that Sammantha, a former Carrum Downs Secondary College student, and Matthew had been stabbed several times ''with a sharp object'', while toxicology test on all four bodies are continuing.

A Facebook page set up to honour the three children yesterday described their deaths as tragic and unfair.

''Such a sad and tragic loss forever in our hearts n mem0ries (sic),'' wrote one friend.

Another said it was cruel the siblings had been taken ''from the world at such a young age'' and did not get to experience all the things in life they should have.

''what has happend has touched every ones hearts, its a tragedy to see what has happend to such young beautiful people, my heart goes out to all family and friends (sic),'' wrote Jamie Brown.

Sarah Szakowski said: ''My heart goes out to the family, my thoughts and prayers are with you in this tragic time.''

The tragedy unfolded after Sammantha and her 19-year-old boyfriend arrived at the Southern Road brick home at about 4pm on Sunday.

The mother allowed her daughter into the house, through the back door but refused entry to the boyfriend.

Police said an argument then broke out between the mother and the daughter inside the house.

The concerned boyfriend, who witnessed the row, tried to gain entry, but could not force his way in and raced to a neighbour's home for help.

Police believe that by the time he returned Sammantha had been stabbed and was bleeding heavily.

About the same time a fire, believed to have been fuelled by an accelerant, had taken hold in the house.

The boyfriend could not find a way in and witnesses said he was screaming hysterically as the fire took hold.

"His screams were blood-curdling. He looked like he had seen something,'' a neighbour told The Age.

Emergency teams arrived shortly afterwards and police and Metropolitan Fire Brigade crews forced entry into the building and found the bodies in three rooms.

Police are awaiting the results of further forensic analyses to determine the exact cause of the fire.

The results from toxicology reports could take up to two months to be determined.

Police are not looking for any suspects.

Neighbours yesterday left festoons of flowers on the property's picket fence.


The Age (Melbourne)
12 January 2011

Police believe mum killed her children
By Paul Millar, with Reid Sexton

448 views (39 KB)
Police are undertaking the grim task of contacting the relatives of a mother who is believed to have stabbed her son and daughter, then died in a blaze with her youngest daughter after torching their Heidelberg Heights home on Sunday.

Toxicology tests are continuing, but police confirmed yesterday that the 36-year-old mother, Kylie Maher, her 18-year-old daughter, Sammantha, her 13-year-old daughter, Melanie, and her 11-year-old son, Matthew, had died in three rooms of the family home.

The teenage boyfriend of Sammantha is distraught after failing to gain entry to the house, where his partner lay bleeding after she had been stabbed.

All those who died stayed at the home, except for Sammantha who had been living in Skye, near Frankston.

An autopsy revealed that Sammantha and Matthew had been stabbed several times ''with a sharp object''.

The tragedy unfolded after the 19-year-old boyfriend arrived at the Southern Road brick home with his partner at about 4pm.

The mother allowed her daughter into the house, through the back door but refused entry to the boyfriend.

Police said an argument then broke out between the mother and the daughter inside the house.

The concerned boyfriend, who witnessed the row, tried to gain entry, but could not force his way in and raced to a neighbour's home for help.

Police believe that by the time he returned Sammantha had been stabbed and was bleeding heavily.

About the same time a fire, believed to have been fuelled by an accelerant, had taken hold in the house.

The boyfriend could not find a way in and witnesses said he was screaming hysterically as the fire took hold.

''His screams were blood-curdling. He looked like he had seen something,'' a neighbour told The Age.

Emergency teams arrived shortly afterwards and police and Metropolitan Fire Brigade crews forced entry into the building and found the bodies in three rooms.

Police are awaiting the results of further forensic analyses to determine the exact cause of the fire.

The results from toxicology reports could take up to two months to be determined.

Police are not looking for any suspects.

Neighbours yesterday left festoons of flowers on the property's picket fence.



The Age (Melbourne)
11 January 2011

Mother murdered children, started horror house fire, police say
By Megan Levy

Police believe a mother stabbed two of her children and set her house on fire during a family dispute that killed all four people inside the Heidelberg Heights home on Sunday.

Police revealed today that those killed in the blaze were a 36-year-old mother and her three children - an 18-year-old woman, a girl, 13, and a boy, 11.

The bodies of the 18-year-old woman and 11-year-old boy suffered wounds consistent with being stabbed with a sharp object, according to a police statement today.

The eldest daughter's boyfriend saw her bleeding heavily after a fight with her mother moments before the house erupted in flames.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said no suspects were sought over the fire, which tore through the Southern Road property about 4pm on Sunday.

In a statement released this afternoon, police said the eldest daughter, who lived in Skye, had gone to her mother's house with her 19-year-old partner shortly before the fire broke out.

The mother had let her daughter into the back door of the house but prevented her boyfriend entering.

The boyfriend saw the mother and her daughter arguing and unsuccessfully tried to enter the house, before seeking help from a neighbour.

When he returned to the house, he saw his girlfriend bleeding heavily. He again tried to break in, but was unsuccessful.

A fire, which is thought to have started in the kitchen, then ripped through the house.

Police and Metropolitan Fire Brigade crews arrived shortly after 4pm and forced their way into the home but were unable to save anyone inside.

The police statement said the four dead family members were found in three different rooms of the house.

Post-mortem examinations have been completed on the bodies, but the exact cause of death is still not known and police have ordered toxicology reports, which are expected to take up to eight weeks.

Police are also awaiting forensic reports to determine the cause of the fire, however an accelerant was used to start the blaze and police have deemed it suspicious.

The arson and explosives squad will now prepare a brief for the coroner.

Police have urged anyone who witnessed the fire or tried to assist and has not already spoken to investigators to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au



The Australian
12 January 2011

Suspected murder suicide in Melbourne house fire
By Pia Akerman

A teenager and her brother were stabbed before their house was set alight killing them, a sister and mother in an apparent murder-suicide.

The violent row that left four unrecognisable bodies among charred remains at the Heidelberg Heights house, in Melbourne's northeast, spiralled after 36-year-old mother Kylie Maher fought with her 18-year-old daughter, Sammantha Fowler, on Sunday afternoon.

Ms Fowler did not live at the house with her family, but showed up shortly before 4pm with her 19-year-old boyfriend.

He has told police that they went to the back door of the Southern Road property, where Ms Maher let her daughter in but blocked the boyfriend.

He then saw the two women arguing, and tried again to get into the house but was unsuccessful.

After going to a neighbour's house for help, he returned to his girlfriend's house where he saw her bleeding heavily.

Again he tried to break into the home, but fire had already taken hold and was starting to rip through the property.

Police and fire crews arrived soon after and forced their way into the burning building, but could not recover any of the family members.

Ms Maher's other children, an 11-year-old boy, Matthew, and a 13-year-old girl, Melanie, were also killed.

Matthew showed marks of being stabbed with a sharp object, as did Ms Fowler.

Sammantha attended Carrum Downs Secondary College, and was described by friends there as a kind-hearted girl who "just wanted to live her life to the full".

The bodies were found in three rooms within the house.

It is believed the fire began in the kitchen, at the back of the house. "Police are awaiting further forensic analysis to determine the exact cause of the fire, however it is deemed suspicious and at this stage it is believed a type of accelerant was used," a police spokeswoman said.

"While post mortems have been completed, the exact cause of death is still not known and (police are) awaiting toxicology reports. This is expected to take up to eight weeks."

Detectives from the Arson and Explosives Squad are still investigating the case and will prepare a brief for the Coroner.

The neighbours on either side of the house have described Ms Maher and her two younger children as a quiet family who kept to themselves and had lived at the property for only a year or two.

Ms Fowler lived at Skye, in Melbourne's southeastern suburbs, and was not regularly seen at the Heidelberg Heights house.

The redbrick single-level home sits with another house on the block, but they are not rented together.

The initial argument that triggered the violence could not be heard on the busy street, with neighbours unaware of any trouble until the fire took hold.

One neighbour who lives directly opposite the house described seeing a man, presumed to be the boyfriend, sobbing on his knees on the nature strip as he cried for help and watched the flames.

Police are not seeking any suspects over the fire, but are keen to talk to any witnesses or people who tried to help the family who have not yet come forward. Friends have now left tributes outside the front gate of the house, which remained taped off by police yesterday.


PerthNow
10 January 2011

Mum suspected of killing kids before burning house at Heidelberg Heights
By Amelia Harris, Wayne Flower, with Anthony Dowsley - Herald Sun

A mother involved in an argument with her daughter is the prime suspect in killing her three children before setting her house on fire and committing suicide.

Kylie Maher, 36, and her eldest daughter, Sammantha, 18, became embroiled in a fight after the teenager turned up at the Heidelberg Heights house with her boyfriend on Sunday afternoon.

In frenzied scenes, the boyfriend, who was pushed away from entering the backdoor with his girlfriend by Ms Maher, saw the pair argue before trying to get neighbours to help in force his way in.

It is not known if her other children, Melanie, 12, and Matthew, nine, were alive.

The coroner has found both Samantha Fowler, who lived in Skye, and her half brother Matthew had injuries consistent with a sharp object, such as a knife.

Police are also working towards the theory Ms Maher, who also went by the surname Fowler, lit a fire in the kitchen area that ripped through the house and burnt their bodies.

The boyfriend, 19, has told police he saw Ms Maher and Ms Fowler arguing and attempted to gain entry into the house, but failed.

He then went to the neighbours house directly behind in a desperate bid for help.

He has told police he returned to see his girlfriend badly bleeding and again tried to force entry as the fire began to take hold.

The four dead family members were located within three different rooms in the house.

Police and Metropolitan Fire Brigade crews arrived shortly after 4pm and forced entry into the brick veneer house but were unable to help any of the badly burnt people inside, who were deceased.

Police are awaiting further forensic analysis to determine the exact cause of the fire, however it is deemed suspicious and at this stage it is believed a type of accelerant was used.

A friend of Sammantha's said the teenager, who finished year 12 at Carrum Downs secondary college last year, was kind-hearted.

"She cared about all her friends and family," the friend said.

"She pretty much just wanted to live her life to the full."

Theresa Waters, who knew Matthew through his involvement in the North Heidelberg Junior Football Club, said the 11-year-old was a "good kid".

"You had to check if he was actually there because he was so quiet," Ms Waters, 34, said.

"He never made a fuss over anything."

Ms Waters said Matthew had played at the club for two seasons.

"He loved his footy," Ms Waters said.

"He kicked a few goals in the very last game he played."

An exact cause of death is still not known and toxicology reports are expected take up to eight weeks.

Investigators have now finished processing the scene on Southern Rd.

Police have spoken with a number of witnesses and are urging more to come forward.

The arson and explosives squad is investigating the matter and will now prepare a brief for the Coroner.
Edited

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