Latest News

Maria Claudia Lutz’s Friends Pay Tribute To An ‘Amazing Mother’

'She never let any of her troubles show, she was a fighter and she was tough.'

The Sydney mother found dead alongside her family in a suspected murder-suicide this week was an “amazing mother” a “fighter” and a “beautiful soul”, say friends whom she worked with at the school for children with disabilities where her children attended.

Fernando Manrique, 44, his wife Maria Claudia Lutz, 43, and the couple’s two children Martin, 10, and Eliza, 11 along with their family dog were all found dead inside the home, with police reporting no signs of violence or struggle but have since revealed an elaborate network of pipes and gas bottles that were used to poison the family.

Police are investigating whether Manrique was behind the deaths in an apparent murder-suicide

The body of Ms Lutz was reportedly found alongside her daughter, Eliza, while the bodies of her son and husband were found in separate rooms.

“She was always caring about everyone else, it didn’t matter what was happening in her life, she was always most worried about everyone else,” Karen Hickmott, one of a number of women who knew Ms Lutz through St Lucy’s primary school in Wahroonga, told ABC’s 7.30.

RELATED: Father Reportedly Turned Family Home Into A ‘Gas Chamber’

“She never let any of her troubles show, she was a fighter and she was tough.”

“We’d all been out for coffee on Friday and we all sat in the nursery … and she was in such good spirits,” another friend, Peta Rostirola remembered.

“She was Maria, she was loud and funny and she was so happy her life was going in the right direction.”

According to Ms Rostirola, Ms Lutz had recently had a meeting with the National Disability Isurance Scheme (NDIS) about getting help with caring for her two children.

“She even felt guilty for taking that, she was just the most selfless person.”

“We are a very, very close family here at the school,” Javiera Cori also told 7.30. “We do support each other very much, especially when you don’t have family around, so we are the family.”

“She had the most beautiful soul and she was the most resilient person I’ve known, the strongest person I’ve known, with the most beautiful smile always on her face,” Ms Cori added.

According to the Daily Telegraph, police yesterday uncovered a network of pipes and gas bottles throughout the home, believed to have been installed by Manrique.

Neighbours have reported seeing the technology executive working on the roof with power tools over the weekend before the family’s deaths.

“He was right up on the roof replacing tiles and using power tools of sorts,” Neighbour Ofik Thomassian told

“He was cutting and banging and making all sorts of noise and pulling up tiles but I don’t really know what he was doing.”

Fernando Manrique with wife Maria Claudia Lutz, and their two children Martin and Eliza, pictured in 2008. Photo: Facebook

A number of other neighbours have also confirmed seeing the father working on the roof over the weekend.

Police are currently looking into where the gas canisters were purchased or obtained.


Ms Lutz was said to be a devoted mother to her two children, and an active member of the school community and neighbourhood. Which is why when she didn’t show up for tuckshop duty on Monday morning, her two children were not at school and she could not be reached, alarm bells were raised.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit Lifeline.

Related stories