Mother-of-three Kelly Wilkinson was found dead with burns to her body in the backyard of a Gold Coast home (pictured)
A man accused of setting alight and killing his ex-wife had enjoyed a blissful wedding and seemingly perfect holidays to the US before the alleged murder.
The body of Kelly Wilkinson, 27, was discovered in the back yard of her Arundel home on the Gold Coast in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Police were called the Spikes Court property at 6.40am after neighbours reported hearing the sound of an explosion and screams coming from the home.
Her estranged partner Brian Johnston, 35, was found two blocks away on a front lawn in a ‘semiconscious state’ and charged with murder on Tuesday night.
Her three young children aged from two to nine were inside the home at the time of the alleged murder but are all safe.
Johnston is in a serious condition under police guard at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital suffering from burns to his airways and hands.
The 27-year-old’s family were only seven years ago sharing happy photos of Ms Wilkinson tying the knot with Johnston surrounded by their loved ones.
Another photo showed the couple holding one of their children during a holiday in the US, while one from 2016 showed Ms Wilkinson beaming as she enjoyed a trip to Niagara Falls.
The couple holding one of their children during a holiday in the US. Johnston (right) is in a serious condition under police guard at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital
Ms Wilkinson’s mother Karen – died in February in a tragic double blow for the family – had also shared images on Facebook of her daughter and her young family visiting the US state of Ohio.
The smiling photos came as it emerged on April 6, exactly two weeks before the alleged murder, Johnston’s sister Kelly Kruft created the ‘Help Brian and his Children’ GoFundMe page.
‘I’m Kelly Brian’s sister, this is all I know to do to help my brother currently since he is in Australia! He needs our help! Please and Thank you! God Bless,’ the vague description for the fundraiser read.
A day after creating the crowdfunding page, which featured a photo of Johnston’s three children, Ms Kruft took to Facebook to plead for donations.
‘We are asking for your help and most definitely your prayers please! I can’t go into details currently but Brian needs his family and friends!!!!’ she wrote.
On Tuesday night, Ms Wilkinson’s heartbroken sister Danielle Carroll shared her fury on social media, lashing out at Ms Kruft for posting about the fundraiser page.
Ms Kruft took down her Facebook page late on Tuesday night after being bombarded with thousands of abusive messages directed to her brother.
Just two days before Johnston (right) allegedly set alight Ms Wilkinson (left), his sister set up a mysterious GoFundMe page. The pair are pictured on their wedding day
Pictured: A family photo of Ms Wilkinson from 2016 showing her smiling during a trip to Niagara Falls
Johnston (left) pictured with Ms Wilkinson (right). He was found two blocks away on Tuesday on a Gold Coast front lawn in a ‘semiconscious state’
Kelly Wilkinson pictured during a family trip to the US. Ms Wilkinson’s sister asked for friends and family to ‘help the children’ in the wake of her sibling’s death
Brian Johnston (right), 35, was found two blocks away on a front lawn in a ‘semiconscious’ state. He was charged with murdering his estranged wife Kelly Wilkinson (left)
The estranged couple on their wedding day. Ms Wilkinson’s mother Karen died in February in a tragic double blow for the family
Johnston is currently under police guard at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in a serious condition with burns to his hands and airways.
A separate GoFundMe was created by Ms Wilkinson’s sister Natalie on Tuesday afternoon asking for help to pay for the funeral of her ‘beautiful angel’.
‘Unfortunately Kelly has passed away… we are trying to raise money to pay for the funeral, the kids schooling and all other costs,’ she wrote on the page.
The GoFundMe has already seen donations totalling more than $50,000 in less than a day.
Ms Wilkinson’s sister asked for friends and family to ‘help the children’ through the difficult period.
Ms Wilkinson’s body was found in the backyard of her Gold Coast home early on Tuesday morning
Several people responded to Ms Wilkinson’s sister’s post, expressing their condolences and devastation at the news.
‘Thinking of you and your family,’ one friend replied.
‘Oh babe… my heart reaches out to you all… If u need anything we are only a call away,’ another said.
‘I am so so so sorry Natalie,’ another said.
Police were called to the area at 6:40am and immediately cordoned off the street
The house where police say Johnston was found unconscious and with burns to his hands and airways
Neighbours said they saw a bleeding man run from the scene on Tuesday morning.
‘He turned up in the bushes in the house next door to me – his left arm was heavily bandaged,’ one resident told 9News.
‘(A passerby) saw the fella and asked you know, ‘are you okay mate?’ He made some remark like, ‘I’m fine’, but he had his head down.’
Detective Inspector Chris Ahearn of the Gold Coast Police said the alleged killer was in a serious condition under police guard in hospital with burns to his hands and possible burns in his airways.
He had allegedly fled the scene of the incident and was found at a property in nearby Langer Place.
‘The forensic examination will take some time.
‘There may be further evidence that has left that scene. Our intention is to lock that area down and determine (whether that is the case).
They are investigating as to whether there had been domestic violence calls made to the house in the past.
Ms Wilkinson’s body was found early on Tuesday morning on Spikes Court in Arundel
Det. Insp. Ahern said he did not know if the man was the father of the children and could not comment as to whether he was known to police for earlier domestic violence incidents
Local resident Fred Davies, who has lived on the street for 20 years, told the Courier Mail the situation was ‘pretty traumatic’.
‘When we lived in a street for as long as we have, and we all know one another, I have no idea who it is, what’s happened, but to see this many police here obviously something’s pretty traumatic has happened,’ he said.
‘They won’t tell me nothing. They wouldn’t say a word. They’ve just asked to have a look at the cameras.’
Rubbish collection in the area was stopped on Tuesday afternoon as police searched bins for evidence possibly discarded by the alleged offender as he left the property.
‘There may be further evidence that has left that scene,’ Detective Inspector Brendan Smith said.
‘Our intention is to lock that area down and determine (whether that is the case).’
Another forensic investigation officer was seen photographing what appeared to be a crumpled black garment at a nearby bus stop on Allied Drive, where it’s believed the man stopped as he fled the scene.
Mid-afternoon an SES crew from Southport joined police in searching Spikes Court and the surrounding neighbourhood for any evidence left behind by the alleged offender.
Police examined bins in Spikes Court in case the man had left anything as he fled the scene
A police forensic officer examines an object left at a bus stop near where the incident occurred