Deaths of mother and two children suspected murder-suicide
The deaths of a woman and her two children at Te Araroa near East Cape are being investigated as a suspected murder-suicide.
Tiny Tibble, 43, died on November 16, along with her son, 14-year-old Ashton-Lee Rangihuna, and 10-year-old daughter Ana-Roimata Rangihuna (pictured at right), near the settlement of Te Araroa. It happened a month after Lance Rangihuna, Tibble’s partner and the children’s father, died in the same area, also in a suspected suicide.
A spokesperson for Rotoruabased coroner Heidi Wrigley said she was investigating the deaths of the Rangihunas and Tibble and was treating them as self-inflicted.
Stuff earlier revealed that Rangihuna was facing a historical sex charge at the time of his death.
Tibble’s brother, John Morice, told Stuff that she had left a note for him on the day she died, instructing that she and the children be cremated and interred with Rangihuna at a family urupa.
He said she had lived with him for about three weeks after Rangihuna died but there was no indication anything was wrong and she was making plans for the future.
Police said in a statement the fact that there were no survivors presented a ‘‘unique challenge’’ but the investigation would be conducted ‘‘in the usual way’’.
‘‘ This involves examining a range of possible contributing factors including environmental ... and the people involved through avenues like witness and family statements. Police findings help advise the coroner, who will make ultimate determination on cause of death for all involved.
‘‘Police acknowledge the significant impact [these deaths have] had on the local community.’’
Data obtained by Stuff as part of the Homicide Report shows that, since 2004, 16 children have been killed by a parent who then
killed themselves, a phenomenon known as filicide-suicide. Of those, nine were killed by their mother and seven by their father.
In total for that period, 60 people were killed by someone who then took their own life. Gunshots were the most common cause of death.
Counsellor and author Rhonda Pritchard, who has carried out one of the country’s only studies into filicide-suicide, said that in such cases the person often thought of their children as part of themselves.
‘‘They don’t quite distinguish between their own state and their own needs and those of their children. If they feel despairing themselves, then they have this idea about staying together – it is a ‘we are all in this together’ idea. The ultimate romantic fantasy that ‘beyond death we will be together’ is a theme for some people.’’
She said Rangihuna’s alleged sexual offending, which was not against his wife or children, could have engendered a sense of humiliation for Tibble, and his death a sense of unbearable loss that often accompanied filicidesuicide.
‘‘It would be understandable if she felt both the unbearable loss but also the humiliation and exposure that she would have had to suffer as well.’’
Pritchard said such cases were rare and very hard to predict. Offenders often had no history of mental illness or violence.
‘‘People do not believe anyone would do that to their children ... so they ignore or do not believe the despairing voice or expression of despair. If we understood it is possible, the worst can happen, it may be easier to prevent.’’