- The girls’ bodies were found by the accused’s husband, also an orthopedic surgeon, when he returned home Thursday night
- The family arrived in New Zealand in late August and had only been living in their Timaru home for a week
- A childminder who worked for the family in South Africa said they were an “awesome family” with no obvious problems
A 40-year-old doctor who recently moved with her family to New Zealand has been charged with killing her three young daughters.
Lauren Dickason, an orthopedic doctor, is accused of killing her 2-year-old twins Maya and Karla, and their older sister Liane, 6, at a home in the South Island city of Timaru Thursday — only weeks after the family moved to the country from South Africa, Stuff.co.nz reported.
Lauren appeared in the Timaru District court Saturday morning and was charged in connection with the deaths of her children, TVNZ reported. The accused, who has yet to register a plea, was remanded by a judge to Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch for a mental health assessment under section 38.
The children’s bodies were found by Lauren’s husband, orthopedic surgeon Graham Dickason, when he returned home late Thursday night, according to Stuff.
Graham called for help as neighbors overheard him screaming and yelling, “Is this really happening?” Emergency services quickly arrived, but his daughters were pronounced dead at the scene, the report said.
Their mother was taken to the nearby Timaru Hospital for treatment, according to the outlet. She remained there Friday in a stable condition.
The family arrived in New Zealand in late August and had only been in Timaru for a week after leaving managed isolation and quarantine, which is required for all travelers to the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Police said they are not searching for any other suspects in connection with the deaths of the girls, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
“Look, whenever our police staff face a tragedy like this, you cannot help but take it personally. A lot of us are parents, we have our own children, and the human side of us comes through,” said Police Superintendent John Price.
There were reportedly no indicators on Lauren’s social media pages that anything was amiss, according to AP. She shared photos of her family and of bakery treats and wrote about COVID-19, urging people to get vaccinated.
Lauren also marked her and her husband’s 15th wedding anniversary on Facebook in May. “What an adventure. We have truly created a beautiful family and had many good times together,” she wrote.
The Dickasons were an “awesome family” with “wonderful kids” and no obvious problems, according to Mandy Sibanyoni, who worked as a childminder for them in South Africa.
Sibanyoni claimed the only sign of “stress” she saw from Lauren was due to one of her daughters being born with a lip disfigurement, which needed surgeries. But both parents “loved their kids like nobody’s business,” she told the Associated Press.
In a statement, Lauren’s parents, Wendy and Malcolm Fawkes, from South Africa, told Stuff that they were “devastated” over the tragedy.
“The extended families are in a state of shock as we try to understand what happened. We ask for your prayers and support during this very difficult time,” they said. “We would also request privacy as we battle to come to terms with what has happened. We would like to thank the staff of Timaru Hospital for their support at this difficult time … and the New Zealand police for their attention to this matter.”
Lauren is due to appear in court again on Oct. 5.