A 27-year-old West Australian man has declined to enter a plea after facing court over claims he bludgeoned to death his mother and her partner at their tranquil retirement home in Tasmania.
Victims Delys Weston, 62, and Gavin Mooney, 69, were two of Australia's leading health academics who had moved from Perth to a secluded property in Mountain River, southeast of Hobart, to enjoy semi-retirements in September last year.
Police claim Nicholau Francisco Soares murdered Dr Weston and Professor Mooney at the property using a hammer and sledgehammer.
They said it was a particularly gruesome crime, with the alleged weapons found next to the couple's bodies.
Detective Inspector Peter Powell said there was still "no obvious motive." Soares is Dr Weston's son from a previous relationship.
He had arrived in Tasmania three weeks ago for a "fresh start" and had been staying at the academics' home, PerthNow reports.
The son was waiting in another room when police arrived in the early hours of yesterday morning.
"The only person who really knows what occurred in that house now is the man we have in custody,'' Detective Inspector Peter Powell told news media.
He added there was "some sign in the room of a disturbance, some furniture overturned" but detectives were still trying to determine what precipitated the attack.
Forensic investigators were combing the house yesterday while other police doorknocked homes in the area, described as remote with few houses nearby.
Soares appeared in Hobart Magistrates Court on two murder charges but did not enter a plea or apply for bail.
He has been remanded in custody and is due to face court again next month.
The Mercury newspaper said Dr Weston and Prof Mooney had been "captivated by the beauty and tranquility of the expansive home they bought" which "looks out on the rugged peaks across the scattered homes and the steep, timbered ridges rising up to Collins Bonnet."
They kept a vegetable garden and a small flock of chickens, but also had plans to become involved in social justice as they had in WA, the newspaper reported.
Prof Mooney was also a regular contributor to The Mercury.
The couple's death is the second suspected double murder in Tasmania this week.
Early on Sunday morning a man and a woman aged in their 30s were found dead at a home in Hamilton, 70km from Hobart.
A 59-year-old shearer is suspected of murdering the couple, which included his ex-girlfriend.
Author: Erin Tennant