Osmington massacre suspect is four dead autistic children grandfather

Grandfather suspected to be behind murder suicide in which seven family members died including his wife, daughter and four autistic grandchildren – as police say his former son-in-law was not involved

  • Grandfather of autistic children murdered is now a suspect as police investigate grim murder-suicide
  • Seven dead in mass murder-suicide at remote farm in Osmington near Western Australia’s Margaret River
  • Bodies of four children and three adults were found after police were called to property at 5am local time
  • Police investigating if Peter Miles killed his wife, daughter and four grandchildren before taking his own life
  • Children’s father, Aaron Cockman, is not being investigated by police despite marriage breakup with his wife

The grandfather of the four autistic children who were found shot dead alongside three adults, including their mother and grandmother, at a remote Margaret River farm is being investigated.

The grisly murder-suicide at the home in Osmington, Western Australia, early Friday morning shocked the nation, and is Australia’s worst mass shooting in two decades.

Police are turning their investigations towards Peter Miles, the husband of Cynda Miles and father of Katrina Cockman – who were both found dead at the 30 acre sustainable farm, The Australian reported.

Investigators are establishing whether Peter killed three generations of his family before taking his own life.

The grandfather of the four autistic children who were found shot dead alongside three adults, including their mother (pictured together), at a remote Margaret River farm is being investigated

Three generations were found shot dead at the rural farm in Osmington including Katrina Cockman and her four children (pictured together) aged between 8 and 13


Police are turning their investigations towards Peter Miles, the husband of Cynda Miles (left and right) and father of Katrina – who were found dead at the 30 acre sustainable farm in Western Australia early Friday morning

The grisly murder-suicide at a remote farm house (pictured) in Western Australia shocked the nation as Australia’s worst mass murders in two decades where police are establishing whether Peter killed three generations of his family before himself

Police were met with horrific scenes when they arrived at the farm this morning. Pictured: A metal building on the farm

Katrina is thought to have home schooled her four autistic children, Taye, Ryan, Ayre and Kadyn Cockman who were aged between 8 and 13, at the farm known as Forever Dreaming when they moved their after her marriage breakup. 

Katrina is believed to be estranged from her children’s father, Aaron Cockman, who is a builder.

Despite sharing on Facebook last month that her ex ‘does not stop stalking (her)’, authorities told the publication Mr Cockman, who is still alive, was not a suspect. 

The children’s grandparents bought the farm, which is a short drive from Margaret River, Western Australia, in 2014 and planned to live a sustainable life with their daughter and grandchildren. 

The seven bodies were found in different locations on the remote property along Osmington Road at about 5am Friday. The children were found beside an adult in a shed which had been transformed into a living area.    

The children’s grandparents (Cynda pictured) bought the farm in 2014 and planned to live a sustainable life with their family after their daughter’s marriage breakup 

Katrina is thought to have home schooled her four autistic children, Taye, Ryan, Ayre and Kadyn Cockman who were aged between 8 and 13, at the farm known as Forever Dreaming (pictured)


Katrina (pictured) is believed to be estranged from her children’s father, Aaron Cockman, but despite sharing on Facebook last month that her ex ‘does not stop stalking (her)’, police said Mr Cockman, who is still alive, was not a suspect

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson described the incident as a ‘significant tragedy’.

Commissioner Dawson said a ‘male person’ connected to the property had phoned police at 5.15am about an hour after nearby residents woke to the sound of gun shots. 

Two firearms were located at the scene and Commissioner Dawson confirmed that at least some of the victims suffered gunshot wounds.

‘Based on what we do know, this is clearly a tragedy… Police located seven persons deceased. Four children and three adults,’ he said Friday. 

A neighbour told the ABC he had spoken to a man who lived at the property just hours before the bodies were found.  

‘I was talking to him on the phone last night, I was going to ask him to come over tomorrow. He seemed very vague,’ he said.

Commissioner Dawson said a ‘male person’ connected to the property (pictured) had phoned police at 5.15am about an hour after nearby residents woke to the sound of gun shots

This image shows the kitchen of the remote farm where a mass-murder suicide was discovered early Friday morning

Two adults were found dead outside a building on the rural property, before the bodies of four children and another adult were discovered inside. Pictured: A bedroom in the house

This image shows a dirt road on the farm where police discovered seven dead bodies including four children on Friday morning

Another neighbour, Felicity Haynes, told Daily Mail Australia that Cynda and Peter had moved to the countryside to build the sustainable farm as a home for Katrina, her daughter and three sons. 

‘Cynda and Pete… moved out from town three years ago … they had started to build a river farm and had done fabulous work growing their own vegetables and building dams,’ she said.

‘That’s what makes it so tragic. They were building a self-sustainable farm to raise the family there.’

A friend of Katrina told The Australian she ‘worked tirelessly to provide her children with everything they needed’.

‘I always admired her for her strength The kids were kind, gentle, smart and beautiful children.’

Her mother Cynda is an active member of local community group Transition Margaret River which seeks a happier and more sustainable future.  

The well-loved local also owns a craft company, Soft Salvage, where she turned recycled materials into decorative pieces, news.com.au reported.  

Nearby residents said they heard gunfire around 4am but dismissed the sound as coming from kangaroo shooters (farm pictured) 

On the farm’s website, Cynda Miles wrote of watching her grandchildren play with the animals.

‘Forever Dreaming is our forever farm. It is here that we will grow as much of our food as we can, sit on the veranda and watch the birds, and watch the grandchildren immerse themselves in the animals and everything else that happens on a daily basis,’ she wrote. 

Police were met with horrific scenes when they arrived at the 30 acre farm with two houses on Friday morning. 

Nearby residents said they heard gunfire around 4am but dismissed the sound as coming from kangaroo shooters.   

‘This devastating tragedy will no doubt have a lasting impact on the families concerned, the whole community and, in particular, the local communities in our south-west,’ Commissioner Dawson said.

‘The loss of any life is tragic, but four children and three adults, this is a significant tragedy.’ 

Two firearms were located at the scene and Commissioner Dawson confirmed that at least some of the victims suffered gunshot wounds

A neighbour told the ABC he had spoken to a man who lived at the property just hours before the bodies were found 

Forensic officers comb the scene where four children and three adults were found shot dead on Friday at 5am local time

Another neighbour who lives across the road from the property told Fairfax he hadn’t heard anything unusual overnight. 

‘There was nothing much I could tell [police],’ said the semi-retired farmer, adding he didn’t know the residents very well.

‘I’d seen who I assume was the father out in a paddock one day, on a tractor. But I didn’t have the opportunity to say hello.’  

Julia Meldrum, deputy president of the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, told Daily Mail Australia the district was in deep shock.

‘It’s devastating,’ the distressed mother-of-two said. ‘It’s just shock and devastating for the community.

‘I actually feel like vomiting. The shire has a population of 14,000 people but each town is very close knit.

Jan Walsh told Australian Associated Press they lived in a very ‘caring town’.

‘There’s retired people who live down here, there’s ex-farmers,’ she said.

‘It’s just a wonderful place to live and everyone’s so friendly.

‘You wave to everyone coming down Osmington Road and you don’t even know them.’ 

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE MASS SHOOTING

– Police found seven bodies at a rural property in Osmington after being called there just after 5am on Friday

– Four of the victims were children, three were adults

– The victims suffered gunshot wounds

– Two firearms were found at the scene

– Police would not confirm if it was a murder-suicide

– Police said there was ‘no information to raise concern about wider public safety issues’ as no suspects are being sought

– Identities of all victims have not been released, but locals say the family that lived at the farm were respected and contributors to the community

– Osmington is in the Margaret River region, which is renowned for its surf breaks and vineyards

– Situated about 15-20km from Margaret River, Osmington had a population of just 135 people in the 2016 Census

– The region consists of a handful of roads, farms, vineyards, horse studs, holiday chalets, luxury accommodation, a small church, a five-star dog retreat and gourmet dining 

Source: Australian Associated Press

Another neighbour who lives across the road from the property told Fairfax he hadn’t heard anything unusual overnight 

‘In Margaret River there’s a lot of children and a lot of young families. It’ll be devastating for the community. It’s touched many people, people I’m sure will know one another.

‘The shire will be doing whatever we can to provide support and whatever else we can do in addition… I’ve got young children as well. It’s just devastating.’  

Shire president Pamela Townshend said the names of those believed to have been killed were circulating in the community.

‘There’ll be a grapevine happening I’m sure in the community but we can’t comment because it’s a crime,’ Councillor Townshend said.

‘At the moment all we really know is it’s a small community. Everyone knows everyone to some extent.

‘It’s an isolated rural area. There’s no centre of town. Everyone comes into town to do their shopping.

‘There’s a lot of giving each other vegetables, cooking each other meals, looking after each other when they’re ill – very connected in deep ways.’  

Julia Meldrum, deputy president of the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, told Daily Mail Australia the district was in deep shock because of how peaceful the area is

‘Everyone’s involved in everyone else’s business in a small town so it’s going to be a huge shock for this town.

‘The shire will provide as much support as we can for our town, for the community and for the remaining family members.

‘There are community members already rallying to work out a support response for the family. We’re already seeing this rallying.

Councillor Townshend believed the deaths should lead to further debate about gun and family violence.

‘Once again we are faced with this problem in families with gun violence and male violence, assuming it is male violence,’ she said.

‘We need to have it firmly on the table to talk about it and not just have it as an isolated mental health issue of one person. It’s society’s problem.

Commissioner Dawson, who said there was no danger to the public, did not specify the ages of any of the victims 

Commissioner Dawson, who said there was no danger to the public, did not specify the ages of any of the victims. 

On Friday afternoon police were trying to find family members of the deceased.  Osmington, about 260km south of Perth, is a 10-minute drive east of the Margaret River township. 

The tiny community, which ABS data shows has about 135 residents, mostly consists of farmland properties and vineyards.

Australia had not experienced a mass shooting massacre, defined as the death of five or more people, since 35 people were gunned down at Port Arthur in April, 1996.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.   

From Port Arthur 1996 to Melbourne 1987: Australia’s worst gun massacres  

The shooting deaths of seven people at a rural property south of Perth are Australia’s worse mass shooting since the 1996 Port Arthur massacre which sparked new gun laws.

Australia had not experienced a mass shooting massacre, defined as the death of five or more people, since 35 people were gunned down at the historic Tasmanian tourist attraction on April 28, 1996. 

The shooting deaths of seven people at a rural property south of Perth are Australia’s worse mass shooting since the 1996 Port Arthur massacre (pictured)

Before the Port Arthur massacre, seven people in August 1987 were gunned down at Hoddle Street in central Melbourne.

In August 1991, seven people were killed at Strathfield Plaza in Sydney’s inner-west when a gunman shot dead six people in the mall after he had stabbed a teenage girl.  

The gunman Wade Frankum killed himself as police arrived at the scene. 

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