Australian Rugby Player, Rowan Baxter, Dies In Murder-Suicide–Baxter’s Career

A former Australian rugby player is dead after police say he killed his wife and kids before killing himself in an unspeakable tragedy. Rowan Baxter allegedly was frustrated and distraught after separating from his wife and dealing with custody arrangements at the time the athlete reportedly filled a can with gasoline before the car they were in went up in flames. The murder-suicide has left Australian community shaken. 

Rowan Baxter
Rowan Baxter 2006 | Ross Land/Getty Images

Rowan Baxter was a former Australian rugby player turned fitness trainer

Baxter was originally from Tauranga, New Zealand. He played with the New Zealand Warriors squad in 2005. After his tenure with the Warriors ended, Baxter worked as a fitness coach for the National Rugby League, where he trained other players in physical fitness and techniques for the sports. He also had other clients, including the Super Rugby and Australian Football League (AFL) teams in and around Australia.

Rowan Baxter
Rowan Baxter 2005 | Sandra Teddy/Getty Images

He took his love of physical fitness and turned it into a business. Baxter and his wife, Hannah, ran a fitness company, Integr8, based in Brisbane, Australia. Integr8 has been used by elite sports players, including current and former Brisbane Broncos rugby league players.

According to his professional bio on the center’s website, Baxter had over 20 years of experience in sports and physical training. His fitness expertise included strength and conditioning, weight loss, movement and mobility, and weight training.

Source: YouTube

The center offered classes almost hourly during normal hours of operation Monday – Saturday. Baxter worked as a co-founder and head trainer.

Rowan Baxter, his wife, and their children sadly die in an apparent murder-suicide 

Baxter and his wife were said to have separated last fall and were in the midst of sorting out a custody arrangement for their three young children at the time of their deaths. According to TMZ, 31-year-old Hannah was driving their family vehicle when her estranged husband began to pour a liquid on her.

Rowan Baxter and family
Rowan Baxter and family via Twitter

Witnesses say they heard Hannah scream, “He’s poured petrol on me,” as she managed to jump from the car. Baxter was in the passenger seat. Police believe he doused the car with gasoline prior to setting the car ablaze.

A good samaritan tried to help and was able to assist Hannah out of the vehicle as it caught flames. She was rushed to a nearby hospital but did not survive her injuries. The helper also suffered burns to the face but is expected to be okay.

Sources say Baxter also escaped but later died. Law enforcement told CNN that Baxter had self-inflicted stab wounds to his body. 

The couple had three young children – two daughters and his son. The children were aged 6, 4 and 3. Their bodies were discovered trapped inside the vehicle. 

Following the news of their deaths, the Prime Minister of Australia issued a statement via Twitter, writing, “My heart goes out to the families and community going through this tragic time and the emergency responders confronting what would be a shattering scene.”

Source: Twitter

The investigation is still underway but many believe the separation and custody battle led 42-year-old Baxter to the horrific murder. Social media posts leading up to the incident feature posts dedicated to his children. Baxter’s fitness center also recently closed down.