A heartbroken friend of a ‘depressed’ Melbourne mother who died alongside her three children said she was notably ‘withdrawn’ in the weeks leading up to her tragic death.
Paramedics found the bodies of Katie Perinovic, 43, and her three children – Claire, seven, Anna, five, and Matthew, three, inside their Tullamarine home on Thursday at 12.30pm.
The father of the children, Tomislav Perinovic – who made the frantic Triple-0 call – is being treated as a ‘person of interest’ and has given his account of what happened to police.
Marie Groves, a neighbour and family friend of the mother said they became close because their children often played together.
She said the mother attended a birthday party at her house for her daughter’s birthday in November, and was unusually quiet.
‘She was more withdrawn than I’ve seen her ever in the past,’ Ms Groves told Daily Mail Australia.
Paramedics found the bodies of Katie Perinovic and Claire, seven, Anna, five, and Matthew, three (all pictured). The father of the children, Tomislav Perinovic (left) is assisting police with inquiries
‘There were a few other mums here and they did notice she seemed a bit quiet on that day. But she never mentioned anything like that’.
A devastated Ms Groves said Ms Perinovic was devoted to her children and relied on the support of her mother, who lived locally.
‘Those kids were full of life. They were your picture perfect kids,’ she said.
‘She loved those kids so much and would do anything for them.’
Ms Groves said she was a well liked woman in their neighbourhood who was always smiling.
‘She was a well known, beautiful and a very tall lady, very gorgeous and every time she walked past always had a smile on her face (and was) always chatting to everybody,’ she told The Australian.
It’s also believed Ms Perinovic and her husband had planned to demolish and renovate their home together as their children grew older, the Herald Sun reported.
Others who knew the mother said she often visited the local library with her young kids and would lovingly sing songs and read to them.
While Melbourne was placed into a hard lockdown, neighbours said they spotted several drawings of rainbows covering the windows of the Perinovics’ home.
Victoria Police told Daily Mail Australia Mr Perinovic was still in custody and assisting investigators with their inquiries at 6am on Friday, 18 hours after he first called police in an ‘extremely distressed’ state.
Police were unable to confirm whether they expected any charges to be laid or if he would be released on Friday morning.
Police said there was no history of family violence involving the family. Pictured: Katie and Tomislav Perinovic with their daughter
Emergency crews were called to the house on Burgess Street, Tullamarine about 12.30pm on Thursday
Mourners pay their respects at the home in Tullamarine on Friday
Detectives are seen at the house in Tullamarine on Friday following the tragic death of a mother and her three kids
Acting Assistant Commissioner Mark Galliott said officers would remain at the ‘gruesome’ crime scene throughout the night but refused to elaborate on the mother’s injuries or those of her children.
Ms Perinovic, who also goes by the surname Blazevic, unexpectedly left her job at Glenroy Physiotherapy Centre about three months ago, The Herald Sun reported.
Neighbour and friend, Marie Groves, (pictured) said Ms Perinovic was very ‘withdrawn’ and quiet when she saw her at the end of November at her daughter’s birthday party
It’s believed she may have fallen into a depression in the lead up to her death.
She had worked at the clinic for seven years, according to the website.
Ms Groves said she still hadn’t processed the shocking news.
‘It hasn’t sunk in that I’m not going to walk out the door and see her walking past to the milk bar and picking up pizzas with the kids,’ she told the ABC.
‘She was Katie, smiley face Katie, who would always stop and chat.’
The family’s neighbour John Constantino said he chatted with the mother-of-three the night before she died and noticed nothing out of the ordinary.
‘I was watering the garden about 7.30pm and she walked past and she seemed happy and everything,’ he told The Age.
‘She asked me what I was going to do tomorrow, I said, ‘I might mow the lawn’ and she said ‘yeah, it’s not going to be a hot day’.’
Mr Constantino said Ms Perinovic was a ‘lovely’ woman whose kids would often pat his dogs as they walked past his house.
Paramedics found the bodies of 43-year-old Katie Perinovic and three children – Claire, seven, Anna, five, and Matthew, three
It’s believed Ms Perinovic may have fallen into a depression in the lead up to her death
A mourner leaves flowers at the home in Tullamarine after the tragedy on Thursday
Police have taped off the area at Burgess Street following the four deaths
Police have confirmed they are probing multiple different scenarios – including murder-suicide.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Robert Hill said while the investigation is in its very early stages, the family ‘died in suspicious circumstances’.
‘As to who is culpable for the death of the four people that is yet to be determined and we should not draw any conclusions at this point in time,’ he said.
He said it would be ‘grossly unfair’ to assume culpability on the basis that Mr Perinovic is assisting police.
‘We just need to understand the facts, and unfortunately they’re not known to us but will be in the fullness of time,’ he said.
‘We have a long way to go before we can actually understand and appreciate what occurred.’
The father appeared ‘extremely distressed’ on the street when emergency services arrived.
Police have confirmed they are probing multiple different scenarios including murder-suicide
Residents have been left shocked by the deaths which have rocked what they describe to be a quiet area
Victorian Police detectives arrive at the house on Friday. Investigations are still ongoing
‘He was standing on the street, looking distraught,’ a witness said.
Dep Comm Hill said investigators don’t believe there are other parties involved.
Police said there is no risk to the community and there was no history of family violence.
Residents have been left shocked by the deaths which have rocked what they describe as a quiet area.
The scene at 56 Burgess St, Tullamarine, where Katie Perinovic and her three young children died
Forensic officers are seen at work at a crime scene in Tullamarine
Officers who were called to the scene in Tullamarine stand with police tape on Thursday
Emergency crews were called to the house in Tullamarine, Melbourne’s north-west, on Thursday afternoon
Tara Jenkins, who lives around the corner from the family, said she was ‘absolutely gutted’ by the ‘devastating’ turn of events.
‘Those kids were so young, just beautiful little kids. ‘[Their mother] was always alone with them and was a very loving mother,’ she told The Age.
‘We would often say hello to each other as our kids played. She was always really cheerful and kind … just a lovely woman.’
A neighbour who lives next door said he heard the commotion of the emergency crews but was advised to stay inside.
Another neighbour named Johnie said a police helicopter hovered above his house for an hour on Thursday.
‘It’s a bit too much for a local neighbourhood like this,’ he said.
Aerial images from Thursday afternoon show a heavy police presence outside a home.
The street has been cordoned off to the public.
Homicide detectives are investigating after three children and their mother were found dead inside a home in Melbourne
Police and detectives remain at the scene in Tullamarine on Friday