True Crime

Brisbane dad sets family car alight killing his estrange wife and kids, police allege

He's been described as a 'heartless monster'
Hannah Clarke
Hannah Clarke with her children and their killer Rowan Baxter

A Brisbane mother and her three children have been burned to death after her estranged husband set them alight in the family car.

Rowan Charles Baxter, 42, killed his three kids – Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four and Trey, three – who all died inside the car.

Rowan Charles Baxter, 42, killed his three kids – Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four and Trey, three – who all died inside the car.

Mr Baxter’s estranged wife, Hannah Baxter, 31, was pulled alive from the driver’s seat of the car but died hours later in hospital.

ABC reported how Mr Baxter – who was a former Warriors rugby league player – allegedly poured petrol on the family during a routine school run on Camp Hill street at around 8.30am on Wednesday (19 February).

Police say that he was in the front passenger seat but escaped from the burning vehicle and died shortly after from a self-inflicted stab.

It’s believed he was waiting near his in-laws’ home until Hannah emerged with the children.

The car was driven a short way before it came engulfed in flames.

Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey Baxter set alight by dad Rowan Baxter
Aaliyah (left), six, Trey (centre), three and Laianah (right), four (Credit: Facebook)

According to the Daily Mail, the couple broke up last year after more than a decade together. Ms Baxter had moved to her parents while the pair were locked in a custody battle.

Tributes came pouring in for the late Ms Baxter, with friend Caitlin Langford telling the ABC, she was ‘just the most beautiful woman.  She was kind, and strong, and lit up any room.

‘She was the most beautiful mama to her babies and the most inspirational role model.’

Ms Baxter’s brother Nataniel Clarke shared an emotional Instagram post, writing, ‘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.

‘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.

Rowan Baxter with children Aaliyah, Lainah and Trey
Rowan Baxter with his three children (Credit: Facebook)

‘The last thing my sister said to my wife was “I’m so excited this year will be great.”’

Family members say that Ms Baxter had left Mr Baxter due to ongoing abuse.

Mr Clarke’s wife Stacey set up a Facebook fundraiser to help cover funeral costs and said Ms Baxter’s parents had ‘exhausted themselves to try and help Hannah escape this monster.’

Hannah and Rowan Baxter
(Credit: Facebook)

She wrote, ‘For those who knew Hannah or had even just met her once would know how much of a beautiful soul she was, her children were her life.

‘All she wanted was happiness. Her children were only a reflection of her. Gorgeous happy kids who held a massive piece in my heart and I’m sure many others because that’s exactly what they were like.’

If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide call Lifeline (13 11 14), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467) or Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800).

For help support with domestic abuse, visit 1800Respect or call 1800 737 732. 

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