Mother of Teancum, Tyrone, Bella and Rua Michelle Petersen
Photo: Facebook, Michelle Petersen
Life seemed to be coming together for the family of four. The mother of one of Rua’s friends saidÂ they were active members of the local church.
Michelle had begun volunteering at a non-profit centre that helps people overcome alcohol and drug addiction.
Cyrenian House chief executive Carol Daws said Michelle was an important member of the team and worked as a volunteer in one of the centre’s key programs.
“She provided strength, hope and inspiration to the women and children who have been resident in our Saranna Women and Childrenâ€™s Program,” Ms Daws said.
“Her work positively impacted on many lives, and her loss is being very keenly felt across our organisation and will continue to be into the future.
“Her death, and those of her children is an immense tragedy for her family. Our thoughts are with them, and with her many friends at Cyrenian House and in the wider community at this awful time.”
Friends spoke of the doting relationship 15-year-old sister Bella had with her younger brother and one described Rua as “the light of [Michelleâ€™s] life”.
â€śShe just loved him. He was such a cute little boy,â€ť she said.
More friends and neighbours spoke of Ruaâ€™s playful, bubbly nature, and said he was a friend to many local children.
Rua Peterson on his 5th birthday.
Photo: Facebook, Michelle Petersen
His older sister Bella was a student at Ellenbrook Secondary College, and her love of playing rugby gave her many friends outside her own school.
A friend who knew her for more than 10 years described her as a â€śbeautiful girlâ€ť.
â€śShe was so caring and kind. She was a very good friend and would always be there for you … she was a very good sister, and was always looking after her little brother,â€ť she said.
While Bella and Rua both played rugby, Teancum was a capable cross-country runner, representing sporting specialist school Aranmore Catholic College at a cross-country carnival back in 2012.
But friends said he preferred to keep to himself.
â€śHe was a little shy and was into his animes, like Dragon Ball Z,â€ť one friend said.
Teancumâ€™s love of both Asian and his own New Zealand cultures are showcased in a YouTube channel he maintained until 2013, where he posted video slideshows of martial arts, Tibetan monks and Samurai ninjas, as well as a tutorial of himself playing New Zealand artist Tiki Taaneâ€™s track Always On My Mind.
Teancum Vernon Petersen-Crofts has been charged with three counts of murder.
â€śHe sometimes had anger issues but he was almost always a nice guy,â€ť Teancumâ€™s former friend said.
â€śHe was definitely weird, but nothing I wouldâ€™ve thought would lead to this.â€ť
After he graduated in 2017, itâ€™s understood Teancum spent time with his fraternal twin Tyrone.
But over the past six months, the family-oriented street has begun to see flashing police lights more and more often, neighbours say.
Neighbours speak to police outside the house where Michelle Petersen and tow of her children were found dead.
Police Commissioner Chris Dawson has since confirmed police frequently visited the Petersen home.
A mother who lives nearby said she had heard several increasingly loud, aggressive disturbances coming from it in recent months.
“We’ve been here for three years and it’s usually such a quiet street,” she said.
She spoke of Teancumâ€™s unconfirmed “mental issuesâ€ť, and said she had heard he had struggled to find help in the public health system.
Less than a week ago, police were called when Teancum was reportedly seen outside of the Brixton Place home holding a plank of wood.
Just a day later, he had his last run-in with officers before Sundayâ€™s tragic events.
A WAtoday source who cannot be named says Teancum presented at St John of God Midland emergency department on Saturday in a “psychotic state”.
Teancum was behaving erratically but his condition was not considered to be a â€śmedical problemâ€ť, the source said.
Teancum Petersen-Crofts has been remanded in custody in a mental health facility.
Within hours of Teancum returning to the Brixton Crescent home, Michelle, Rua and Bella were dead.
When he faced Midland Magistrates Court on Monday without a lawyer by his side, he appeared delusional and interrupted magistrate Greg Smith a number of times as his murder charges were read.
“He’s a criminal,” he said of an unknown person.
“He went to take me out bush. He did it. He came back for my family.
“I needed to because mama is with me … I was painting a picture of Jesus and stayed there for two months. He punched me so hard in the head. So hard it wasn’t funny.
“I left because I was that scared he was going to kill me. Mama told me to save myself.”
When court security attempted to calm him, Mr Petersen-Crofts lashed out at one of the guards.
“What are you looking at, serial killer? He looks like a serial killer and he’s a security guard.”
Mr Smith said that, due to concerns regarding Mr Petersen-Crofts’ mental health, he would be remanded in Frankland Centre on a hospital order for a week before his next court appearance.
Following the tragedy, Commissioner Dawson doubled down on his support of his officers in a press conference and said he was â€śconfidentâ€ť their actions had been appropriate.
“I’ve been briefed on the actions and I’ll speak only for police,â€ť he said.
â€śI’ve been briefed on the actions that police have taken in regard to attending the address in Ellenbrook in recent times – including the most recent matters.
â€śI am confident that the actions taken by police officers have been appropriate in the circumstances.
WA Police commissioner Chris Dawson says officers’ response was appropriate.
Photo: 9 News Perth
“Police officers are trained to deal with any situation that they are tasked to deal with but you cannot adequately prepare someone despite training for tragic events such as what took place last weekend.
â€śWhat I can say is that the WA police force works very closely with the Mental Health Commission and I’ve spoken to the Mental Health Commissioner and will continue to do so.
â€śIt is a partnership in which it is working as well as we can in the circumstances.â€ť
Health Minister Roger Cook said all procedures would be examined during the police investigation, including the intelligence police had in the lead-up to the tragedy.
â€śI can’t confirm the nature of the medical treatment of the efficacy of that treatment,â€ť he said.
â€śIt is simply inappropriate for me to make comment in relation to the circumstances that led up to that event.â€ť
Just days before Rua and Bella were due to return to school, the Education Department confirmed it would provide additional support for their classmates and other children experiencing grief over their loved friends.
â€śIn any situation where students and staff may be experiencing grief, schools have access to a range of support services including school chaplains and school psychologists with specialist training in grief counselling,â€ť a department spokeswoman said.
A community based chaplain is also working in the City of Swan helping residents affected by the tragedy.
The City’s CEO Mike Foley saidÂ staff are working with the Red Cross and other agencies to “prepare resources for our community with information about local support services.”
“We are also working with members of the Maori cultural community who are making arrangements for the family,” he said.
“We will continue to provide support and assistance throughout this process. We understand the impact this tragedy has had on the wider community.
“If you have been affected by this event, there are people and organisations that can help you. If you would like to talk to someone, please visit www.swan.wa.gov.au/Support for a list of contact information.”
The Midland and Ellenbrook communities have also already rallied, with local rugby club the Ellenbrook Rabbitohs holding a fundraiser for the families of those affected on both Saturday and Sunday, and a GoFundMe set up to help cover the funeral costs.
The fundraiser has already exceeded its $20,000 goal, and dozens of tribute messages written in Maori have been left on the website’s page.
Hannah Barry is a Fairfax Media journalist based in Western Australia, focused on breaking news.
Phil is a Fairfax Media journalist based in Western Australia and covers court, crime and police