A killer father kidnapped one of his children, stalked his estranged wife and tracked her phone before burning his family to death in an ‘ambush’, her grieving parents revealed.
The distraught parents of Hannah Clarke revealed to Daily Mail Australia the increasingly ‘frightening and monstrous’ descent of Rowan Baxter in the lead up to him setting a car alight killing his wife and three children, before stabbing himself to death.
Aaliyah, 6, Laianah, 4, and Trey, 3, died in the inferno while Baxter, 42, who was badly burned, stabbed himself to death and died next to the burning Kia Sportage on Raven Street in Camp Hill, Brisbane, on Wednesday morning.
Hannah, 31, suffered horrific injuries and died hours later in hospital, despite the heroic efforts of neighbours who smothered the flames and sprayed her burns with a garden hose.
Hannah with her mother Suzanne Clarke. Mrs Clarke and her husband Lloyd said they have struggled for months to keep the killer father away from his estranged wife and children who was stalking them and even kidnapped one of the kids
Baxter holding the couple’s son Trey and Hannah with daughters Aaliyah, six, and Laianah, four
Hannah’s parents Lloyd and Suzanne Clarke said the cowardly murder-suicide was the end of a ‘downward spiral’ which began when Hannah, who was tired of 11 years in a controlling and abusive marriage, left in early November.
‘She had to get the kids and just go without saying anything, because he was such a control freak and would get into her headspace and she would give in,’ her shattered father Mr Clarke said on Thursday morning.
Baxter, a former NRL player, was occasionally allowed to see the children on weekends, but there was always tension, and even one assault, on drop offs and pickups.
‘He kidnapped (one of the kids) on Boxing Day and took her interstate for four days until the police got her back,’ Mrs Clarke said.
‘He stayed with a mate who was an absolute animal and sent Hannah a disgusting email blaming her for everything.’
Hannah’s family said Baxter must have hidden in their garden and stalked her and the children. He then poured petrol on them and set the car alight
The couple is still searching for answers about how Baxter managed to get inside the car and set it on fire.
They said he wasn’t allowed within 20m of her after a recent assault, and they didn’t see him that morning and have no idea why he was there.
‘We still don’t know how he got so close. He’s obviously ambushed her somehow, I’m sure she would not have stopped for him, she would be more likely to try to run over him,’ Mr Clarke said.
‘He had to hurt us because we’d beaten him. He was sprialling and had run out of people to sponge off. Looks like all of a sudden he decided there was only one way out.’
The couple believed Baxter was obsessively tracking his estranged wife’s phone and location by hacking her device – forcing her to frequently change her passwords.
He sent Hannah suspicious attachments and ‘knew things he shouldn’t have known’.
‘He was going through her phone and tracking her whereabouts. It was really scary,’ Mrs Clarke said.
Baxter responded to his wife leaving him with hatred, hostility, pettiness, and even violence, her parents said.
‘Everything got worse after she left as he couldn’t control the situation anymore,’ Mrs Clarke said.
Her husband added: ‘He thought he was hard done by and wanted 50 per cent of custody and we knew that couldn’t work, the guy didn’t work, he couldn’t support his own family. It started getting ugly.’
Hannah’s parents Suzanne and Lloyd Clarke said Baxter had spent months stalking Hannah, tracking her phone and tormenting her in the lead up to the horrific murder
The charred remains of the Kia Sportage SUV was taken away from the quiet Brisbane street on Wednesday night
The Baxter family’s pet dog Savannah was taken in by a friend after the horrific incident. The friend posted a sad photo of the animal saying she had made new friends ‘after losing everyone she loves’
Three weeks ago – the last time the children stayed with Baxter at the former family home 3km away – he and Hannah got into an argument as he dropped them off.
The Clarke’s said Baxter assaulted Hannah in their front yard by grabbing her by the wrist and twisting her arm behind her back, hurting her shoulder.
He was charged with assault.
Baxter’s Facebook page was filled with sweet snaps of his children, videos of them at play, and declarations of love – but it was all an act.
‘Everyone thought they had a great family because he projected this image on social media with all these sweet pictures and saying he couldn’t live without her,’ Mr Clarke said.
‘It was all a facade. He said he was a good father and he loved his kids, but how can you love them and do something like this?’ Mrs Clarke added:
‘He was on social media every night making himself look like a loving father so Hannah got a lot of trolls sending her nasty things, but they didn’t know the story.’
The couple said Baxter was controlling and emotionally abusive from the start of their relationship and tried to isolate her from friends and family.
‘We always had misgivings about him. He was always controlling, he ruined her relationship with everyone, even tried to get her away from us,’ Mrs Clarke said.
‘He was jealous of her sporting success and when she beat him in crossfit. He had a chip on his shoulder because he didn’t make it as an NRL player,’ Mr Clarke said.
‘Over the 11 years of marriage he wore her down. He split her apart from her brother. Since we got her out they’e reconnected and have a great relationship.’
In happier times: Baxter and Hannah, who ran a gym together until it closed suddenly at Christmas last year due to their marriage breakdown
The Baxter children Laianah, four, and Aaliyah, six holding Trey, three
In a series of text messages sent to a relative, Hannah spoke of her relief when she finally fled Baxter late last year.
‘I’m so glad I got out when I did.’ ‘I’m safe, I’m with my parents who are very, very normal. I’m just so glad I got out when I did. And I’m so glad you reached out to me,’ Hannah wrote.
In another conversation, shared with the Courier Mail, Hannah spoke of the day Baxter kidnapped one of their children and took her interstate.
‘He took her off me in the street because I said the kids couldn’t stay with him until we had a court order,’ Hannah said.
‘He got the s***s and picked her up and threw her in his car.’
Text messages sent by Hannah Clarke to a relative in the weeks after she fled her violent marriage and moved in with her parents
Baxter kidnapped one of the couple’s children on Boxing Day last year. Hannah revealed the details of it in a text message to a relative
Dave Kramer who once worked for the Baxters at their gym broke down as he visited the makeshift shrine on Thursday
The horrific domestic violence incident unfolded as Hannah was doing the routine school run, and just metres from her parent’s house she had driven away from.
At about 8.25am, Baxter poured petrol all over his children who were strapped in the back seat, on Hannah and himself, before setting the vehicle alight.
Hannah managed to free herself from the inferno screaming ‘He’s poured petrol on me’, witnesses said.
Horrified onlookers have recounted how Baxter was ‘going crazy’ and telling residents not to help his children out of the burning car, before he stabbed himself to death.
Heroic neighbour Michael Zemek, who was washing his car over the road, ran to help and is still recovering in hospital after suffering serious burns himself.
The witness said he got Ms Clarke to roll on the ground until the flames were out, then sprayed the burns across her whole body with water.
Another neighbour, Andrew Sinclair, heard the explosion and came running, arriving to see Ms Clarke’s piercing gaze as two neighbours hosed her down.
‘She was standing with her arms out and her palm towards the hose. She looked straight at me, staring,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘It was a look of pain and shock that will stay with me forever.’
Mr Sinclair likened the burns across her entire body to the famous photo of a burned girl in the Vietnam War.
‘She was dressed in active wear like a typical suburban mum and it was burnt, there was holes in it and her skin was falling off her body,’ he said.
Forensic experts comb the street where the father and his three children died after he set them all alight
Suzanne Clarke with grandaughters Aaliyah, 6 and Laianah, 4. Mrs Clarke said she tried for months to shield the children and her daughter Hannah from Baxter’s ‘monstrous’ behaviour
Witness Andrew Sinclair likened the burns across Hannah’s entire body to the famous photo of a burned girl in the Vietnam War
The last family outing Hannah had with her children was to Seaworld on Sunday, three days before they were killed. Pictured are Trey, 3, (centre) and his sisters Aaliyah, 6, and Laianah, 4 with their cousins at Seaworld
‘She was burned all over her body. It was like someone you’d see in a war movie. She was only still standing because of adrenaline, the pain she must have been in was unimaginable.’
Mr Sinclair said the fire was so intense he couldn’t even tell what kind of car it was.
‘No matter what the fire brigade did they couldn’t get the fire out, there was no chance to save those kids,’ he said.
‘I can’t understand why he would do this. Even if he didn’t love his family anymore there’s his parents, brothers, cousins who have to carry this with them forever.’
Another witness said the car rolled down the road with Baxter chasing after it. He then jumped into the burning car and grabbed a knife.
‘He stabbed himself in the chest and then he fell,’ a young woman whose house the car stopped in front of said.
‘You couldn’t hear or see anything from inside the car, it was over for those kids so fast. It’s the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen.’
In a moving Facebook post on Thursday morning, her brother Nathaniel Clarke described the killer as a ‘heartless monster’ and revealed his parents had funded his sister’s custody battle.
‘My mum and dad have given every little thing they own to help my sister try and get away from this monster,’ he wrote.
The inferno in Raven St, Camp Hill, in Brisbane, after Baxter set his family alight inside their SUV
Baxter filled his social media accounts with pictures of himself with children Laianah, four, Trey, three and Alaliyah, six
Hannah and Baxter married in 2012, but her parents said his controlling behaviour took its toll and she moved out in November last year
Mr Clarke said he had had recently reconnected with his sister and the last thing she said to his wife was that she was looking forward to a ‘great’ year before her brutal death.
‘Yesterday I had my sister, nephew and two nieces taken from me in the worst way possible by a heartless monster they called their dad,’ Mr Clarke wrote.
‘Everyone who has been lucky enough to be a part of their lives would know just how sweet and loving these kids and my sister really were.
‘The last thing my sister said to my wife was ‘I’m so excited this year will be great’.
Mr Clarke’s wife Stacey also slammed Baxter in the wake of the savage murder-suicide, calling him a ‘disgusting human’.
She said Ms Clarke’s parents, Sue and Lloyd, had ‘exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster’.
The Baxter’s marital home in suburban Carindale, in Brisbane, is cordoned off as a crime scene, while mourners place flowers and soft toys at the scene
A woman breaks down in tears while laying flowers at the makeshift shrine in Camps Hill on Thursday
A shrine grows at the scene where Hannah and her three kids were doused in fuel and set alight, while one person leaves a poignant sign about domestic violence
‘My beautiful sister in-law and my nieces and nephew had their lives taken by a disgusting human being they called their father,’ Mrs Clarke wrote in a fundraiser to help cover funeral costs.
Neighbours from the old family home 3km away in Carindale told Daily Mail Australia the kids hadn’t been to visit their father much since the separation.
Baxter took the marriage breakdown badly and was living as a virtual recluse with his dog at the former family home.
In the backyard a basketball lay on the grass and children’s clothes and bed linen were hung on the clothesline and had been left there for weeks, according to a next-door neighbour.
Before the separation, neighbours described a happy family, with the sounds of the children playing in the backyard often filling the air.
‘They seemed like a nice happy family. He was always polite and said hello,’ one said.
‘We would see them walk the kids to school and daycare up the road.’
Queensland Police officers were called to a family violence incident that allegedly involved the couple just last month, the Courier Mail reported.
A doll is left at the scene of the horrific murder suicide in Camp Hill, Brisbane
But neighbours said they never heard any fights or even either of the couple yelling at their children.
The happy relationship of the past is a far cry from what witnesses experienced on Wednesday morning.
Baxter’s charred remains were hours later loaded into the back of a funeral van by police, alongside those of his three children.
The beloved young mother’s death shocked the street and the community where she ran a gym with her husband until it closed in December.
Hannah with her son Trey, three. On her social media accounts, Hannah described herself as ‘mother to two princesses and one prince’
Devastated locals and friends of Hannah and the children leave flowers, cards and soft toys at the scene of the tragedy
She had grown up nearby and was well known and loved among locals.
Ms Clarke was once school captain at Whites Hill State College at the end of the street, where a younger classmate said she was like a ‘big sister’.
‘Hannah took me under her wing, walked me to school and made sure the other kids didn’t mess with me,’ Lauren said.
‘She was a lively, bubbly fun-loving girl, always happy, I never saw her angry.’
Ms Clarke was the DJ at blue light discos at the school and competed in swimming carnivals and cross country races.
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EXCLUSIVE: Killer dad kidnapped one of his kids and fled interstate two months before dousing his family in petrol and burning them to death - as it emerges he stalked his wife and hid in her parents' garden before the attack have 2874 words, post on www.dailymail.co.uk at February 20, 2020. This is cached page on VietNam Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.