MURDER-SUICIDE: How social posts hid a terrifying reality

 

BAREFOOT on the beach, Rowan Baxter carries his glowing bride on the sand.

They smile for the camera, Hannah beaming as she wraps her arms around her husband, as he carries her in a piggy back.

It seemed a fairytale romance - but things are often not what they seem.

They'd post that photo again and again.

Hannah, in 2016, wishing her footballer husband a happy birthday. "We hope you have the best day," she wrote.

"I know we drive each other insane at times, but I wouldn't be without you. Love you to the moon and back."

It's a phrase they'd both use often. She about him. He about their children after she left.

"Love you to the moon and back," he wrote just last week, posting a photograph of their third child, their three-year-old Trey. Trey was laughing in the photo.

Rowan and Hannah Baxter on their wedding day.
Rowan and Hannah Baxter on their wedding day.

Rowan Baxter was a contracted NRL player with the New Zealand warriors squad. He grew up in Tauranga in the North Island's Bay of Plenty region.

He had a son young, then married Hannah Clarke, a stunning brunette with a passion for fitness. Together they ran Integr8 Functional Training, a CrossFit gym in Capalaba.

"Rowan is a recognised sportsman and is one of the top fitness coaches in Brisbane," his online bio boasts. "He has over 20 years of experience in sports and fitness industry, starting off as a NRL player for the NZ Warriors team and then coaching other people."

Hannah was an accomplished athlete too. She represented Queensland in trampolining and worked for the PCYC for seven years teaching gymnastics to under fives.

Social media accounts appear to show the picture-perfect family.

Aaliyah, Trey and Laianah at the beach.
Aaliyah, Trey and Laianah at the beach.

 

The family posing together at their gym, pictures at the beach. More recently, Hannah with the children, all three laying on a paddle board, bronzed by the sun, feet dangling in saltwater.

On Rowan's page, it's a family history - but seemingly a superficial one.

Smiling with Rowan's son from a previous relationship.

Cuddling a romper-clad Aaliyah when she was a tiny baby.

Aaliyah napping on her father's chest, the family dog's big head on his lap, nestling the baby.

Aaliyah's first birthday, her hands filled with cake, her hair in tiny pigtails.

Then, a second little girl. Laianah is wrapped in a pink and white spotted blanket in the arms of her older sister.

Baby number three was announced in May, 2016.

"Proud to announce that Aaliyah is being promoted to BIG BIG Sister and Laianah is being promoted to BIG Sister," he wrote on Facebook. With it was a photograph of the smiling couple, their girls in their arms, hand-drawn posters displaying their news.

Rowan Baxter (top right) with children Aaliyah (top left), Laianah (bottom left) and Trey (bottom right).
Rowan Baxter (top right) with children Aaliyah (top left), Laianah (bottom left) and Trey (bottom right).

 

 

Hannah Baxter (right) with son Trey.
Hannah Baxter (right) with son Trey.

Trey was born in 2017. They'd take him to a wedding in March, a beautiful boy clad in slacks and a bow tie. A couple of months later he'd post their wedding photo again, a public show of wishing her a happy birthday.

"Happy Birthday to my Best friend Soulmate," he'd write.

"You have given me 3 beautiful children which I am eternally grateful for. I could not imagine my life without you, although I cannot spoil you with the riches you deserve for the sacrifices you have made for me. I will be the best dad and husband I can be until the day I die. You complete me. Love you lots."

Police at the scene of the horrific tragedy on Raven St, Camp Hill. Picture: AAP/John Gass
Police at the scene of the horrific tragedy on Raven St, Camp Hill. Picture: AAP/John Gass

As the horrific murder suicide played out in a suburban Brisbane street, Rowan showed the kind of dad and husband he was.

Within hours, his entire family would be dead.

His children would burn to death in their mother's car. He would die at his own hand.

His terrified wife would die in hospital.

Their deaths came just two months after Hannah left the family home to stay with her parents.

Friends and neighbours spoke of Rowan's increasingly concerning behaviour.

Lauren Patterson, a friend of Hannah's, said words could not properly describe the profound shock and sadness of yesterday's tragedy.

"Hannah is the most bubbly and kind person I know and absolutely doted on her babies," she said.

"I am in absolute shock that this has happened. There are no words. It should not have happened."

Flowers and cards left at the scene of the tragedy on Raven St, Camp Hill. Picture: AAP/John Gass
Flowers and cards left at the scene of the tragedy on Raven St, Camp Hill. Picture: AAP/John Gass

Ms Patterson last spoke to Hannah two weeks ago.

"She was scared but she was so very strong at the same time," she said. "Those kids were priority number one to her."

A Belmont State School parent shared their memories of Hannah and her children.

"The children's mum bounced into school each day with a beaming smile with the kids by her side," they said.

"It was always the same. Big, happy smile. The thought of what she and those children went through is incomprehensible."



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