Mother arrested after eight children found dead in Australian home

Police have arrested a 37-year-old Australian woman in the deaths of eight children who were all discovered in her home Friday afternoon.

The woman, who has not been identified, is the mother of seven of the eight victims, who range in age from 18 months to 14 years, according to police. The eighth child who was killed was a niece who was visiting, police say. The woman has not been charged.


Several Australian media outlets reported that the children had been stabbed to death. Police have not confirmed the reports about how the children died, but said investigators had recovered "several" weapons, including knives.

The home is in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, in the country's north.

The woman, who was found in the home suffering from "serious injuries," was taken to a hospital where she was later arrested, police say. She is now under guard there, police say.

Det. Inspector Bruno Asnicar with the Queensland police told reporters that forensic teams were still inside the home collecting evidence, and that all of the children's bodies had been removed.

A woman who identified herself as the suspect's cousin told the Associated Press that one of the woman's other sons, who is 20, came home to find his brothers and sisters all dead inside the home. "We're a big family...I just can't believe it," Lisa Thaiday told the AP.

Asnicar said the woman was awake and lucid and speaking to investigators and assisting with the investigation.

"We're not looking for anybody else, and we're confident that the community at large is safe," said Asnicar, calling the killings "an absolutely tragic event."

Asnicar said the home where the children were found was not a "problem house."

"This is just an ordinary neighborhood, a lot of good people, a lot of children. This is just something that's caught everybody by surprise," Asnicar said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the news was heartbreaking and called the incident an "unspeakable crime."

"Tonight, there will be tears and prayers for these children across our country," Abbott said in a statement from his office Friday.

Acting police Assistant Commissioner Paul Taylor said the events had shaken Manoora, a "very close-knit multicultural community." There have been several candlelight vigils held throughout the community of Cairns and its suburbs for the slain children, and Taylor said he attended one Friday.

"It was clear ... the victims were unknown to them," Taylor told reporters Saturday. "It galvanizes the community and shows the strength of the community of Cairns. We're hoping that ... the families and friends of the victims can draw on that strength in the coming weeks and months."

Follow Christine Mai-Duc for breaking news @cmaiduc