On the evening of June 16, 2008, two policemen arrived at a house in Sunnybank Hills, in Brisbane’s southern suburban sprawl.
Once inside, they opened a bedroom door to find the bodies of the family’s 17-month-old twins.
The toddlers, a boy and a girl, weighed 4.72kg and 4.97kg, respectively.
They had starved to death.
The twins had been placed in the room three months earlier. At first, their mother would visit them with bottles of formula. But the bottle feeds started to become more sporadic, until their mother decided that it would be easiest to shut the door and ignore their cries.
She found the twins’ bodies on June 9, 2008.
After a week, she gathered the courage to tell her husband. The pair kept their children’s death a secret. It wasn’t until the twins’ 11-year-old sister found the bodies of her siblings in the bedroom on June 16 that they realised they couldn’t keep the deaths hidden any more.
The children’s grandmother was called to mind the other children. The police arrived shortly after.
When questioned about how the twins had passed away, their mother told the police prosecutor: “I don’t think I fed them enough.”
But there was more to this family’s story than that.
The couple were high school sweethearts, but their romance had eroded long ago. She was a mother of six. He was a gambling addict, and alcoholic. She had a strong presence on virtual reality website, Second Life, a place that provided her with escapism from reality.
Images taken inside their seemingly normal suburban yellow-brick house published by The Courier Mail earlier this year show that the family lived in squalor. The laundry floor was covered in clothes. The father’s bedroom was a mess of beer bottles and electrical cables. And, all through the house there was litter: scraps of paper, bottle tops and other bits of mess.
The mother was suffering from debilitating mental illness. And that’s something that’s incredibly important to acknowledge.
In extracts from an interview two days after the police discovered the bodies, published by The Weekend Australian Magazine, she told Detective Senior Constable Darren Kemball that she wanted to do something to help her children, but she just couldn’t: