The Press

Deaths of mother and two chil­dren sus­pected mur­der-sui­cide

- TonyWall Crime · Society · Incidents

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.’’

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