Pregnant mum slain on family holiday

 

A pregnant woman has been bludgeoned to death and her husband savagely stabbed in front of their toddler while on a family holiday at a luxury resort in South Africa.

Karen Turner, 31, was three months pregnant and sleeping next to her husband Matthew, 33, and their 23-month-old son Hayden, when all hell broke loose at the Hluleka Nature Reserve, in the Eastern Cape province of the country.

Two men armed with knives reportedly broke into the self-contained lodge on the beach and launched a frenzied attack, 400km southwest of Durban, about 3am on Tuesday.

Karen, a primary school teacher from Underberg, died almost instantly, police said. The couple's unborn child was also killed. Matthew was stabbed repeatedly but survived after being flown to Pietermaritzburg where he underwent surgery, according to police.

He remains in hospital with severe upper-body injuries, police said. Hayden was uninjured. The motive is not yet known.

According to police spokeswoman Captain Dineo Koena, friends of the couple who were staying at a chalet next door, woke to "shouting and a struggle" so went to check on them. Moments later they made a horrifying discovery.

"The husband opened the door and he was bleeding. The wife was dead on her back," Ms Koena said. "The husband was rushed to hospital in Mthatha in a stable condition. The baby is with their neighbour."

Ms Koena said there were no signs of forced entry but everything inside the house was upside down.

"It was not like a robbery because no valuables were taken," she said.

According to police, the arrest of at least one suspect is imminent.

"It is just a matter of time," Ms Koena said.

Matthew and Karen Turner on their wedding day.
Matthew and Karen Turner on their wedding day.

 

Matthew and Karen Turner were both South African.
Matthew and Karen Turner were both South African.

A family friend of the Turners - both South African nationals - who spoke to the DispatchLIVE via WhatsApp on condition of anonymity, said the couple were on the trip to celebrate Karen's birthday.

"The friends who were with them in another cottage heard Hayden screaming and screaming and could not understand why nobody was attending to him … they went over to see what was wrong and found Kari had already past (sic) away and Matthew was in a critical condition," the source said.

Karen's older brother Ian Crouch said the couple had been on their way to a wedding and had taken the week off to spend some time together.

"They had arrived there that day," he said. "It was a long day and they were shattered."

The Hluleka Nature Reserve is located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.
The Hluleka Nature Reserve is located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

 

Matthew and Karen, a school teacher, were expecting their second child.
Matthew and Karen, a school teacher, were expecting their second child.

Mr Crouch told News24 that he had spoken to his brother-in-law since the attack.

"Matthew's recollection was that he was woken up by being stabbed in the stomach by a guy on his side of the bed and there was another chap stabbing my sister," Mr Crouch said.

"He said he managed to sort of grab the guy and there was a tussle down the stairs.

"They didn't demand anything. They didn't ask for money. They literally came up, stabbed him and my sister. He (Matthew) thinks they left because he managed to get up and fight a bit.

"He thinks because of the resistance, they left. They didn't have time to take anything because he had chased them out."

Mr Crouch said he later drove to the scene where he found the windows and balcony door open. He described what he saw inside as a "bloodbath".

"You can see it started upstairs in the bedroom," he said.

Mr Crouch said his sister was about three months pregnant and died a day after celebrating her 31st birthday. The couple had just bought a home together in Underberg on the farm that Matthew manages.

They married in July 2017 and Hayden was born four months later, Mr Crouch said.

Karen and Matthew Turner with their son Hayden.
Karen and Matthew Turner with their son Hayden.

'ABSOLUTELY TRAGIC'

Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency CEO Vuyani Dayimani confirmed the Turners were booked in at the reserve from Monday to Thursday and police were called after a stabbing incident.

"As an agency who manage the reserve we are shocked that his taken place in one of our flagship coastal reserves as the safety and security of our guests is our key priority," he said.

Tributes for the family have poured in online.

Matthew's friend, Darryl Louch, wrote on Facebook: "I have such a heavy heart today. Matthew Turner my heart bleeds for you mate. You have risen above challenges in the past, but nothing you have ever endured will make this one any easier. Something that we will never ever understand, but all we can do is stand by and pray for you and Hayden (son) during this incredibly tough time.

"Karen, may you rest in peace knowing that your boys are taken care of and will be looked after by those you leave behind. My support and prayers are with both the Turner and Crouch families during this horrific time."

Another friend, Micky Hayter, commented on the post: "Absolutely tragic. So, so sad indeed."

Former schoolmate Ian Crawford said Matthew was well liked by his peers and many looked up to him.

"He played rugby and liked to be outdoors. It is very tragic news," he wrote.

megan.palin@news.com.au | @Megan_Palin



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