Grandad the killer
‘ Good bloke’ shot wife, daughter and her four kids then himself
AS recently as Wednesday, Peter John Miles had been looking for work on Gumtree.
“I am seeking work in the vineyard, farm or small farm areas. I have over 30 years farming experience and over 12 years vineyard experience,” the 61-year-old posted on the classifieds website under the heading “Seeking Vineyard and Farm work”.
“I have extensive handyman abilities and experience with a wide variety of farm equipment, can repair fences, and tidy up the property from storm damage. I enjoy a variety of jobs and willing to do one off small jobs as well as your larger contracts. I have lived in the Margaret River area all my life and welcome all inquiries.”
About 6am on Friday, Sergeant Brett Cassidy and Senior Constable Ian Southall were confronted by the horrific sight of the grandfather’s body slumped in a chair on his veranda. He was dressed in black tracksuit pants, a dark top and light brown Uggies. A rifle rested between his legs and a yellow torch sat on a nearby table.
Inside the four-bedroom house they found the body of Miles’ wife Cynda, 58, the vivacious, popular grandmother who was known throughout the close-knit Margaret River community.
But it got worse. When they walked into the separate living quarters at the back of the main house they found Miles’ 35-year-old daughter Katrina, or Kat as she was known to the many people who loved her, and her four children Taye, 13, Rylan, 12, Ayre, 10, and Kadyn, 8.
Earlier, at about 5.15am, a man at the pretty 11-hectare hobby farm in Osmington had dialled triple-0.
Police have not confirmed who made the call but the answers to what is the worst mass shooting in Australia since the Port Arthur massacre are likely contained in that two-minute recording.
Within hours, forensic officers, homicide detectives, Bunbury detectives and various specialist police units from Perth had converged on the property 20km east of Margaret River, cordoning off the growing number of media who sat 500m away at the top of a hill overlooking the property.
While the Police Commissioner yesterday refused to be drawn on any specific details of the investigation, he all but ruled out any outside involvement in the massacre. In other words, homicide detectives were now treating the investigation as a mass murder and suicide carried out by Peter Miles.
But the biggest puzzle is, as is so often the case, motive. Why would Miles murder his family — particularly his grandkids who by all accounts he adored?
Inquiries will now be launched into the financial state of Miles’ affairs and those of his wife.
To everyone who knew him, Miles was a farm labourer and odd-job man, wellliked but not overly popular, with a small but seemingly well-patronised business among the many hobby farms in the region.
As a former agriculture teacher at Margaret River High School, and a former state president of Apex, Miles was respected and known as a “down to earth bloke”
But he and Cynda had had their fair share of knocks over the years. As one of their friends said; “they have known tragedy and were dealing with tragedy”.
Their first son, Shawn, suicided about 15 years ago and another son is battling illness.
Peter Miles (second from left at back) and his suspected victims: daughter Katrina Miles (in red), her four children and his wife Cynda.
A police forensics officer at the farmhouse yesterday.