She was one of the faces of the school. The parent the school relied upon, the parent always willing to lend a hand.
Every morning Maria Lutz would make the journey with her two children from Davidson up to Wahroonga on the North Shore – about 20 -30 minutes away, depending on how heavy Sydney’s traffic was – driving her two beloved children to school.
On Mondays she would settle Martin, 10, and Elisa, 11, into their classes then take her place in the tuckshop where she volunteered every week without fail.
But yesterday when Ms Lutz did not show up and Martin and Elisa weren’t in class, alarm bells began to ring in the mind of Principal Warren Hopley.
The usually organised mother hadn’t sent an email, nor left a message to explain her absence or say that Martin and Elisa, who had significant intellectual disabilities including autism, wouldn’t be at school that day.
When a teacher tried to call the home no one answered.
Something wasn’t right.
Elisa had autism. Via Facebook.
Concerned, the school notified police who forced their way into the family home.
What they found has left friends and their school community reeling and the rest of the nation struggling to understand.
Four bodies -Fernando Manrique, 44, his wife Maria Claudia Lutz, 43, sandy-haired Martin, just 10 and his sister, older just by a year, Elisa, a little girl whose mum called her “my little princess.”
All four, including their pet dog, dead, but without any signs of injuries.
Martin, now 10, suffered severe disabilities. Via Facebook.
Superintendent Dave Darcy, Northern Beaches Local Area Command said yesterday police were keeping an open mind about the deaths.
“We’re literally three hours from the time of discovery of this crime scene. ... Of course police have views, but at this stage I’d like to keep that option open,” Supt Darcy said.
He said it was too early to say what went on in the house.
“There’s no one telling us what happened. No one who has witnessed this.” He told media, “I’m not willing to discuss cause of death.”
But there is speculation today, as reported by Fairfax Media that the family may have died by poisoning in a case of murder-suicide.
Supt Darcy refused to say how long the bodies could have been in the home but said that the two officers found was “extremely confronting”.
Ms Lutz was praised by friends. Via Facebook.
There are reports today that the family was struggling with the demands of caring for the two children who had severe autism.
Neighbour Sonja Perry told The Daily Telegraph said Ms Lutz’s life with her children was not without difficulty.