Mother of slain girls 'utterly devastated'
The father of two young girls has been charged with their murder after they were found dead in Watsonia on Sunday. Nine news.PT1M49S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-370vy 620 349 April 22, 2014
The people who live on this curving street in Watsonia, a quiet suburban slope lined with jacarandas and eucalypts, remember the girls with the caramel curls.
Indianna and her big sister, Savannah, played here, in front of the little orange brick house with the alternating pink and white petal rose bushes out front.
The two girls, aged three and four, spent a lot of time here, at their grandmother's house. And on Sunday they were found dead here, in circumstances not yet known.
Indiana, 3, and Savannah, 4.
Charles Mihayo, their father, lived here too, in a flat behind the home of his former mother-in-law. Mr Mihayo is charged with their murder.
Their mother, meanwhile, has asked for privacy and described being ''utterly devastated'' by the loss of her young daughters: ''The girls will be forever missed, loved and never forgotten.''
The explanation for this tragedy is not yet known, but the timeline of events in Longmuir Road is established.
On Easter Sunday, at 2.40pm, screams were heard and Victoria Police were called. Officers arrived around 3pm, as did ambulances and the fire brigade.
Paramedics tried in vain to revive the little ones, persisting with efforts to resuscitate them for more than 30 minutes.
Veteran officers at the scene - people more accustomed than most to gruesome accidents and tragic incidents - were in tears.
One can only imagine what the hours thereafter were like for the family, many of whom had gathered at the home on this long weekend.
Shocked neighbours, standing beyond the police tape, stared at the house. Friends gathered at the scene, too, and held one another and cried.
Hours later, about 1am on Easter Monday, Charles Mihayo was charged with two counts of murder, and remanded to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
As light broke on the street, more mourners began arriving - roughly one an hour - to offer some sort of tribute.
A woman walking a small dog and a young boy riding a bike dropped off a tiny bunch of white and orange flowers.
A small girl and an older man walked up to the white fence, and placed their own vibrant pink bouquet just outside the house before walking quietly away.
Strangers came, like Helen Temple of Watsonia - a mother who fought back tears while leaving a single flower for two children she never met. "I heard it on the news, and just thought to put a flower for the girls," she said. "I have daughters, too, and it's so sad. Hope they rest in peace, poor things."
Some family members arrived around 9.30am and were ushered into the home by police. At 10.15am, the deceased estate cleaners arrived to perform their grave duty and clean up the crime scene.
Gary Lurati, a friend of the girls' mother, said he was in shock about what had happened. Mr Lurati met her two years ago.
By that time, she had split up with Mr Mihayo, he said, and was focused solely on her two daughters and their welfare.
"I just can't believe it," Mr Lurati said. "She's always talking about her kids. She's always doting on them. They were like the apple of her eye."
He said she was working full time, and the two children had to be put in childcare every day. They weren't yet old enough for school.
"It's a terrible thing that's happened. She's such a nice girl," he said. "I can't get it out of my mind."