The father whose four children with autism were found dead alongside his estranged wife and her parents in an apparent mass murder-suicide in Australia last Friday alleges his wife’s father planned the attack for “a long time.”
Authorities have not publicly revealed a suspect or motive in the shooting of the seven family members, whose bodies were discovered on the family’s rural farm in the Australian town of Osmington. But they’ve revealed they are focusing their investigation on the grandfather, Peter Miles, who owned guns found at the scene.
Miles and his wife, Cynda, died along with their daughter, Katrina Miles, and Katrina’s children Taye, 13; Rylan, 12; Ayre, 10; and Kadyn, 8.
“All the kids died peacefully in their beds,” the children’s father, Aaron Cockman, said he was told by police, according to his statements at a news conference Sunday, the Reuters news service reports. The youngest, Kadyn, was found in bed with his mother, he said.
Cockman was estranged from Katrina Miles, and said the couple’s split had prompted Katrina and the kids to move onto her parents’ property, where Katrina’s parents forbade him access to the children.
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“[Peter] was like my best friend and I still love who he was, but his mental attitude… there are some people you just don’t get on the wrong side of … and that’s Peter and Cynda,” Cockman said.
“The anger towards them now is completely gone,” he said. “Completely gone. I don’t feel angry. I feel tremendous sadness for my kids.”
Regarding the allegation that Peter Miles may have killed the family and then himself, Cockman said: “I think he’s thought this through. I think he’s been thinking this through for a long time.”
In a separate news conference, Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said, “I can only describe [it] as an horrific incident,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
Katrina Miles lived with her kids in a converted shed on her parents’ property, The Australian reported. Her mother was well-known for her community involvement in nearby Margaret River, a popular coastal surfing and tourist destination. Her father was a farm maintenance worker.
The incident was widely reported as the worst mass shooting in Australia since 1996, when Martin Bryant killed 35 people and wounded 23 others with a semi-automatic rifle in Port Arthur.
Australian lawmakers responded to the Port Arthur attack by adopting stricter gun laws some credit with reducing mass shootings in the country.