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Artist and sons charged with murdering family’s matriarch

An award-winning artist and her two sons have been charged with the murder of the family’s elderly matriarch.

Melissa Beowulf, 60, and her sons Thorsten, 31, and Bjorn, 29, were charged with the murder of Ms Beowulf’s mother-in-law, Katherine Panin, after she was found dead at the bottom of a flight of stairs in her Canberra home in October, 2015.

Police initially believed Ms Panin, 81, had accidentally fallen, but a secret homicide squad was formed a month after her death to investigate whether it was suspicious, News Corp reported.

The trio have been locked up in Alexander Maconochie Centre in the nation’s capital since the end of last month.

Melissa Beowulf (pictured right) and her sons Thorsten (center) and Bjorn (left with father Thor) were charged with the murder of Ms Beowulf’s mother-in-law, Katherine Panin (old family photo)

Ms Beowulf (pictured) is a renowned artist, with a portrait currently hanging in the National Portrait Gallery and another piece was an Archibald Prize finalist

Ms Beowulf (pictured) is a renowned artist, with a portrait currently hanging in the National Portrait Gallery and another piece was an Archibald Prize finalist

Thor Beowulf (right) died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer a few weeks before the death of his mother. (Pictured: Melissa Beowulf center, Thorsten center right, Bjorn second from left, Thorin second from right, Beren left) (old family photo)

Thor Beowulf (right) died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer a few weeks before the death of his mother. (Pictured: Melissa Beowulf center, Thorsten center right, Bjorn second from left, Thorin second from right, Beren left) (old family photo)

Ms Beowulf is a renowned artist, with a portrait currently hanging in the National Portrait Gallery and another piece was an Archibald Prize finalist.

Ms Panin’s death came just two months after her son and partner of Ms Beowulf, Thor, died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was an accomplished bonsai tree artist, regarded as Australia’s finest. 

The Beowulf’s all lived in a house together in Red Hill, Canberra. Ms Panin shared the home with her son Thor and his wife Melissa, as well as their four sons Thorsten, Bjorn, Thorin and Beren.

Mr Beowulf’s former partner, Dianne McGowan, and their son, Niels Beowulf-McGowan, also lived in the same house.

Melissa Beowulf (left) smiles with late-husband Thor (right) and former Prime Minister Bob Hawke (center)

Melissa Beowulf (left) smiles with late-husband Thor (right) and former Prime Minister Bob Hawke (center)

‘It wasn’t a polygamous situation, more a polyamorous one,’ Mr Beowulf-McGowan said. 

Mr Beowulf-McGowan and his mother moved out of the house shortly after the death of Ms Panin after the dispute over the will of Mr Beowulf and the family’s matriarch.

A property in Sydney’s affluent suburb of Woolahra, that had been purchased by Ms Panin for $700,000, was also sold for $2.7 million days after the death of Mr Beowulf and a few weeks before the alleged murder of Ms Panin.

Ms Panin's death came just two months after her son and partner of Ms Beowulf, Thor, died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was an accomplished bonsai tree artist, regarded as Australia's finest

Ms Panin’s death came just two months after her son and partner of Ms Beowulf, Thor, died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was an accomplished bonsai tree artist, regarded as Australia’s finest

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