Hannah Baxter with her son. Picture: Facebook
Hannah Baxter with her son. Picture: Facebook

Horrific end to picture perfect life

WARNING: Graphic content

A woman who was reportedly doused in petrol by her husband in a car fire that also killed their three children had tried to escape their crumbling relationship by seeking refuge with her parents.

Hannah Baxter, 31, died on Wednesday night after suffering "extensive injuries" when Rowan Baxter, 42, set her car alight on Wednesday morning in Camp Hill, in Brisbane's east.

Inside her vehicle, their children Aaliyah, aged six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three, all perished. Mr Baxter was also confirmed dead, after reportedly stabbing himself.

It's understood the couple were involved in a custody dispute and police are combing the former Baxter family home for clues as to what happened in the lead up to the tragedy.

The horrific incident shocked the nation and raised questions as to how things went so wrong for a seemingly happy family that frequently shared tributes to each other online.

Hannah Baxter and Rowan Baxter with kids Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey. Picture: Facebook
Hannah Baxter and Rowan Baxter with kids Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey. Picture: Facebook

 

Ms Baxter’s burnt out car. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian
Ms Baxter’s burnt out car. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian

 

HANNAH AND ROWAN BAXTER

Hannah Baxter (nee Clarke) and Rowan Baxter married in October 2012 at Peppers Resort in Kingscliff over the New South Wales border.

"Happy Anniversary to my partner in crime xo love you always & eternally," Mr Baxter said on Facebook in October 2015, showing a beaming Ms Baxter in their wedding photos.

That same day, Ms Baxter shared an image of her husband lifting her into the air, forming a heart with her hands.

"What other way would we want to spend our Wedding Anniversary, than by doing a workout together," she wrote.

"Some couples buy gifts or go out to dinner … (Rowan) & I train together."

She finished it with hashtags including #trueloverightthere, #partnerincrime, #soulmate, #bestfriend and #babydaddy.

In 2016, Hannah posted a picture from their wedding to wish her husband a happy birthday.

"We hope you have the best day," she wrote.

"I know we drive each other insane at times, but I wouldn't be without you. Love you to the moon and back."

 

The wedding between Rowan and Hannah Baxter ended in tragedy on Wednesday, with the entire family killed in a horrific incident.
The wedding between Rowan and Hannah Baxter ended in tragedy on Wednesday, with the entire family killed in a horrific incident.

 

Hannah and Rowan Baxter on their wedding day. Picture: Facebook
Hannah and Rowan Baxter on their wedding day. Picture: Facebook

MARRIAGE BREAKDOWN

Mr Baxter grew up in New Zealand's Tauranga and was a contracted player with the New Zealand Warriors, although he never took to the field for the team.

He married Hannah Clarke, who was herself a trampoliner and gymnastic coach, and the pair turned their passion for fitness into a business, running the now closed Integr8 gym in Capalaba, a 20-minute drive from the scene of the fatal crime.

They regularly shared pictures of their family-of-five online, including the smiling children at the beach or swimming. Mr Baxter called Hannah his "soulmate" and promised to be "the best dad and husband I can be until the day I die."

"Absolutely gorgeous Han you look stunning what a good looking family," one friend said on a photo uploaded by Ms Baxter.

Ms Baxter described herself on Instagram as a "proud mumma ... in love with my two little princesses and little prince".

Last September, sharing a post from the gym's Facebook page, Mr Baxter wrote: "My wife does a brilliant job with the kiddies".

"T-R-E-Y. Love you to the moon and back #daddy," the former New Zealand rugby league player posted on his own Facebook page last week, with a photo of his smiling young son.

But other comments on there hint at the ongoing troubles.

"Chin up brother everything will work out just hang in there my bro a lot of people care about you and the situation your (sic) facing," one friend wrote underneath a post on Mr Baxter's Facebook page.

On December 30, Mr Baxter shared a photo with his three children captioned "Goodnight my beautiful babies. Daddy loves you all very much. I miss you all."

Two days later, on January 1, he captioned a photo: "Goodnight ratbags always in my heart."

Rowan and Hannah Baxter in 2015. Picture: Facebook
Rowan and Hannah Baxter in 2015. Picture: Facebook

SURBURBAN HORROR UNFOLDS

On Wednesday, that image of a perfect family life turned to tragedy when Mr Baxter reportedly bought a jerry can of petrol at a nearby petrol station.

Eyewitnesses said a woman, believed to be Hannah Baxter, jumped from the burning car containing his family yelling: "He's poured petrol on me".

Locals described frantically trying to douse the mother of three with water from a garden hose while hearing explosions that sounded like a gas cannister exploding.

Photos of the scene show at least one charred car seat in the back of Ms Baxter's burnt white vehicle which was towed from the scene along with a black Nissan Murano.

"Preliminary investigations indicate the woman was driving the car and the man was in the front passenger seat prior to the incident," police said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.

Brian Cavanagh, a neighbour and friend of Ms Baxter's parents in Camp Hill, told Nine News on Wednesday the deaths of the children were "beyond comprehension".

Mr Cavanagh said he had spoken to Ms Baxter's father and they couldn't figure out how Hannah was in the car with Rowan.

Local man Murray Campbell told reporters at the scene he "saw the vehicle in flames".

"It was just horrible," he said, "and the explosions".

Fellow resident Andrew Sinclair told Seven News "kind neighbours" went to Ms Baxter's aid.

"Someone was hosing her with a fountain effect," he said, calling it as an "awful situation".

Queensland Ambulance Service senior operations supervisor Adrian Tong said the man "tried his best" to help.

"Somebody did step in to try and help that was close by," he told reporters at the scene.

"I think he tried his best to get to the car."

That man, believed to be Michael Zemek, also sustained burns and was taken to the same hospital as Ms Baxter for treatment, police said.

Flowers and cards left at the scene. Picture: John Gass/AAP
Flowers and cards left at the scene. Picture: John Gass/AAP

Flowers have already been left at the scene of the horrific crime as friends start paying tribute.

"My heart is broken today!" one woman said on Facebook.

"Things like this just shouldn't be able to happen to anyone, let alone someone you know, someone you call your friend, someone you've watched grow up to be a lovely athlete, a beautiful smiley women and a spectacular mother!

"My heart is breaking for everyone who knew her and her precious babies but especially the Clarke family."

A memorial of flowers and toys for Hannah Baxter and her three kids on a Camp Hill street. Picture: John Gass/AAP
A memorial of flowers and toys for Hannah Baxter and her three kids on a Camp Hill street. Picture: John Gass/AAP

 

 

The Baxter’s three children all died in the blaze.. Picture: Facebook
The Baxter’s three children all died in the blaze.. Picture: Facebook
They married in October 2012. Picture: Facebook
They married in October 2012. Picture: Facebook
The couple later had three children. Picture: Facebook
The couple later had three children. Picture: Facebook
The couple on their third wedding anniversary in 2015. Picture: Facebook
The couple on their third wedding anniversary in 2015. Picture: Facebook