Mersane Warria was the major adult living with eight children found stabbed to death in a Manoora home yesterday, and now family and neighbours are speaking out about her erratic behavior before the discovery.
Police have revealed the victims were four girls, aged 12, 11, and two, and four boys aged nine, eight, six, and five, and five fathers had been informed that their children had been killed in the massacre.
It was also confirmed by police that Mersane Warria, also known as Raina Thaiday, has been arrested for the alleged murders of the children but has not been formally charged. She remains under police guard at Cairns Hospital.
Police say they have located a number of weapons, including knives, at the Queensland home.
The children's bodies have been removed from the property and autopsies are being conducted today.
An uncle of the children found dead revealed he last spent time with his eight nieces and nephews just a day before they were found stabbed to death by their 20-year-old brother.
The children's uncle told Daily Mail Australia they were in the front yard of the Manoora property when he spoke to their mother. He said one of the children's fathers had plans to take the kids away to Bamaga - the tip of Cape York in Queensland's north.
'The dad wanted to take the kids up to Bamaga. That's what he told me he was doing, he'd been talking about it for six weeks.'
The man claims his sister-in-law had 'found God and was changing her life around'.
'The last I saw them was the day before when she was cleaning up with the kids at the front. I was standing on the fence with me bike yarning to her for ten minutes. She was saying that she'd kicked out the boys with drugs and found God and she was changing her life around. She used to drink and that but she come good after the last lot of (the last four) kids.'
The uncle said the mother she hadn't been religious beforehand.
'She was when she was younger with her adopted mother but not after that,' he said.
Another community member says;
'She had this church DVD she was always watching. She'd started preaching to me in the last week or so. Always talking about God. She approached a group of children and 'had a go at them.'
Ms Warria, 37, who is the mother to seven of the children and an aunt to the other, was seen by neighbours running through the street screaming at 3am on the morning the bodies were found.
After her confrontation with the youngsters she wandered back towards her home.
Only hours earlier a neighbour, Ms Tahnia Ruttensteiner, had witnessed her clearing toys from her house with her children, claiming she wanted 'a fresh start'.
Another member of the community claims that in the weeks leading up to the massacre he had noticed the woman was behaving erratically.
The man, who has a respected standing in the Cairns Torres Strait Islander community, said that Ms Warria had been heard arguing with her husband over her 'ill health'.
He claims it was her behaviour, along with a bizarre turning to God, that led to Miss Warria's husband walking out of the house just a few days before the atrocity.
'He's been heard shouting at her that if she didn't stop, he was leaving. And then he did, moving into a house with other relatives.'
Neighbours have expressed regrets that they did not approach her, but explained that they were used to noise from the house, where there were often loud parties.
They also explain that on troubled Murray Street, it is far from uncommon to hear screaming and shouting.
Another cousin, who wanted to be identified only as Raniet, told Daily Mail Australia on Saturday the mother arrested in relation to the murders of eight children turned to God just days before the killings.
Raniet - a Torres Strait name - said Mersane Warria took her seven children to St Margaret's Anglican Church a few kilometres from her home last Sunday and sat them all in a pew, holding her 18-month-old baby in her arms.
'We haven't seen her there before and it was very strange that she should have taken all the children along with her.'
Today Reverend Don Ford, the minister, confirmed that Mersane had turned up at his small church and had sat with the children in a pew 'towards the rear'.
'In fact, she has been two or three times, week after week, with the children and was noticeable because of all the children she had with her. The only conversation I had with her was when we met after the service and she introduced herself and said she was looking for a new church. That was the extent of the conversation and of course I've been shocked to learn what happened yesterday.'
The father of some of the murdered children, identified as 'Gavin', was filled with grief as he stood in the park with other family members earlier today before he moved off.
'He's in deep shock and it's getting deeper as the hours go by,' a grandmother from the family said. Nodding towards a house in a neighbouring street on the other side of a small park, she added:
'He lives just across there. He's been wandering around a bit but he's disappeared. We feel sorry for him. The shock he feels must be greater than all of us.'
Read more: Dailymail