Police are investigating a suspected “murder-suicide” after the bodies of fishing fanatic Wayne Smith, 58, and his 15-year-old son Noah were found on Thursday (June 1). Their small town of Yamba, Australia has been left in a state of shock as authorities had not believed the teenager was at risk, despite Wayne holding a gun-licence.
Police vowed not to “leave one stone unturned” as they attempt to string together the scant clues available to understand what happened.
Emergency services were called to the Smith’s home at Yamba following reports two bodies had been discovered by one of their family members at about 1.10pm on Thursday.
Upon identifying the bodies of Wayne Smith, 58, and 15-year-old Noah, superintendent Shane Cribb said police were treating the incident as a murder-suicide.
He said there was no reason to suspect the 15-year-old was unsafe with his father, but officers would continue to investigate the circumstances.
“The 58-year-old man was a licensed firearm holder, so that was found at the scene,” he said. “Police will speak to a number of people; we’ll look at the history of both the father and the son. We’ll look at the family history.”
“It’s an absolute tragedy”, he added. “Our job now is to be professional and put the evidence together. No stone will be left unturned, and hopefully we get to the bottom of why.”
Lisa Flynn, who lives on the same street as the Smiths, told news.com.au the small, close-knit community has been left shocked by the incident.
“My partner came home at about 3pm and there were cops everywhere,” Ms Flynn said. “No one had heard anything – no gunshot noises, nothing.
“You just wouldn’t expect it in this area; there are a lot of retirement-age people and single mothers here. It’s just surreal it could happen so close to us,” she said.
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Police said the investigation into the incident was “in its infancy” but confirmed they “don’t believe a third party was involved”.
The street has since reopened, with officers from the Coffs Clarence Police District still investigating.
Police are taking measures to support the small community, with the deaths affecting students and staff at Noah’s school as well as people connected to local sports clubs.
Neighbours said the father and son had been living in the area for at least 10 years. Noah was a junior footballer in the small New South Wales east coast town, and Wayne spent 40 years working for the local Port Authority.
The two were also known as fishing enthusiasts, having won local awards. Ms Flynn said she often saw the pair outside working on the man’s boat together. Photos on social media show the duo with fish they’d caught together.
Ms Flynn added that although the neighbourhood is horrified by the deaths, they feel safer knowing police don’t believe anyone else was involved.
“It gives us some relief knowing there probably isn’t a third person out there and that the matter is likely resolved.
“They had a good relationship with each other,” she said. “I rarely saw the boy go to school, but I’d see them working on the dad’s boat a lot.”
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