Murder suicide: Cheating dad wanted to die
Cheating dad Fernando Manrique intended to die alongside his wife and two children as he pumped lethal carbon monoxide gas into their home as they slept, a coroner has found.
Police who investigated the tragedy at the family's Davidson home believed Manrique, 44, may have intended to flee overseas to live with his teenager Filipina girlfriend and died by accident.
Deputy state coroner Elaine Truscott yesterday found that while Manrique had a number of affairs, he could not accept the fact that his wife wanted a divorce and had told him to leave the house.
His wife Maria Lutz, 43, and their children Elisa, 11, and Martin, 10, were found dead in their beds on Monday October 17, 2016. Their dog Tequila was also poisoned by the gas that Manrique had piped throughout the house after secretly installing a sophisticated system.
He was found face down in the hallway as if he was either leaving or entering a bedroom, the coroner said.
The doors to the house were all locked and she said Manrique knew how deadly the odourless and colourless gas was.
"That is why he selected it - to end the lives of his wife and children painlessly and quickly and without them knowing," Ms Truscott said.
"If he had wanted to avoid its effects he would have protected himself with a gas mask. His knowingly being in the location of gas exposure without protection points more to suicide than accident."
She said he had likely waited until the family was asleep before turning on the gas.
"The evidence is sufficient to find that Fernando had planned to suicide but it is likely that his intent could not manifest until the motivation behind it had been complete and that moment arrived upon the death of Maria, Elisa and Martin," Ms Truscott said.
She discounted the "hurtful" speculation that Ms Lutz may have been complicit in the deaths because their children were autistic and needed a lot of care.
"They were much loved by their family and their wider community, and in particular by Maria, who devoted herself to caring for their special needs," the coroner said.
She said Manrique had bought the two carbon monoxide cylinders for $4000 and bought $700 in hardware to rig up the deadly network of pipes.
But while he was sending money overseas to his 19-year-old girlfriend, he had not taken anything from the house such as a suitcase and there was no evidence he had booked hotels or flights. he had destroyed his computer hard drives and telephones.
"There is no evidence that he intended to survive and be accountable for his actions," Ms Truscott said.
"Their lives were stolen by someone who should have been their protector and provider."
Rules have already been changed to tighten up the supply of carbon monoxide gas.