A teenager has been remanded to a mental health facility after he appeared in court over the triple murder of a mother and her two children in Perth, Western Australia.
Michelle Petersen, 48, and her daughter Bella, 15, and son, Rua, 8, were killed in their family home in Ellenbrook, 32km northeast of Perth, on the early hours of July 15, News Corp reported. Petersen was reportedly a mother-of-five.
Teancum Vernon Peterson-Crofts, 19, who is believed to related to the victims, has been charged with their murders.
He appeared at nearby Midland Magistrate’s Court on July 16.
When asked to confirm his name for the court, Peterson-Crofts said, “A criminal wanted to take me out bush—he did it and he came back for my family,” News Corp. reported.
The magistrate told him he didn’t need to say anything, but he replied, “I have to ’cos mamma is with me.”
The magistrate ordered the accused to be sent to a mental health facility for one week due to concerns for his mental health.
Detectives described the crime scene at the Ellenbrook house as one of the most horrific they had seen.
Police arrived at the house shortly after 1:30am to discover a boy and his mother dead inside. The 15-year-old daughter was found in the backyard with critical injuries. An ambulance was called, but the injured teenage girl died en route to the Royal Perth Hospital, WA Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Steel told reporters at a press conference on July 15.
Officers are believed to have found a large pair of scissors about 30 meters from the house, said News Corp.
Peterson-Crofts was subsequently taken into custody to assist with police inquiries. He was charged later that day with three counts of murder.
The assistant commissioner said the 19-year-old walked into a convenience store in the early hours of July 15 and asked the shop attendant to call Triple-0.
When police arrived at the store, the teen allegedly led officers to the scene at the house, News Corp. reported.
“This is a terrible tragedy for the family involved, for their extended family and for those first responders who were forced to attend what was a horrific crime scene,” Steel said.
“It’s a crime, which will send shockwaves throughout the community of Western Australia. A senior homicide squad investigating officer said to me it is potentially the most horrific crime scene that he has ever been called to,” he said.
A friend of Peterson, Toni Ata, who set up a GoFundMe page for the family’s funeral experiences, described the 45-year-old mother as “kind, happy, loved her kids, all of them unconditionally.”
“At times in her life she was rough, she was flawed, but we all are, no one is perfect and Shell tried. She was always good to me, always supported me, always made me feel like a better person,” Ata wrote.
According to News Corp., in a video posted to social media, Ata said, “Michelle had such a hard life. She lost two babies years ago when they were babies too: sudden infant death syndrome. And she was an alcoholic for a really long time … Last time I saw her she had been sober for ages.”
Neighbours told the ABC that they heard yelling and screaming coming from the house before police arrived at the scene.
“I just heard a lot of screaming and yelling and a bit of fighting, and the cops flew past here and headed up this way,” Matthew Schreck who lives around the corner from the house told the news broadcaster. “It was real loud yelling and screaming. It sounded pretty bad. It sounded like a man.”
Peterson-Crofts will appear at Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court next week.