Tragedy ensued in Australia this week after a father turned his entire house into a ‘gas chamber’ in order to kill his wife, severely autistic children, their pet dog and himself in what police believe is a murder-suicide.
Although the neighbours saw 44-year-old Fernando Manrique, who was a technology executive, on his roof using power tools over the weekend, no one had suspected the horrific crimes that were to ensue. In reality, Manrique had been developing an elaborate network of pipes in order to pump poison into the rooms below – much like a Nazi gas chamber.
Wife and mother to their children, 43-year-old Claudia Lutz, was discovered dead in her room, while their 11-year-old daughter Elissa, and Martin, 10, were found dead in another. Meanwhile, Manrique had passed in another room in the house as well as their pet dog. Had any of them known what was going on, perhaps they would have had a chance of survival.
Police are now investigating the case to work out exactly what had happened. Initially they have discovered that the gas canister network set up by the dad was “extensive, elaborate and well-planned.” It is reported that both children were severely autistic with the mother fiercely protective of them, which could have something to do with the motive – they’re also not ruling out the possibility that Manrique and his wife made a murder-suicide agreement.
Family and friends said that their relationship was on the brink of destruction due to the stress of bringing up their children. One neighbour, Ofik Thomassian, said that Lutz was very protective of them:
She would lead them one at a time into the car, lock the door, and return to the house for the next child.
She looked after them but I have to say she never looked happy.
She always had a very serious look on her face. Thinking back now, she looked like she was in pain.
She probably had been for a very long time.
So tragic that even before this incident occurred, it seems that this family had been torn apart by their children’s condition and driven to the point of insanity. RIP to all of them and hopefully their family members can find peace in the fact that it would have been a painless death. Still, so sad.
If you would like to try to understand how difficult it can be living with autism, click HERE.