Townhouse terror: Bodies found, Premier responds

 

Police have found the bodies of two people believed to be Doreen Langham and her ex-partner Gary Hely in the ruins of a Browns Plains townhouse ravaged by fire.

The bodies were found on Monday night, more than 12 hours after police and emergency services were called to the gated complex.

Investigators are this morning at the scene of a double fatal house fire, sifting through the rubble of what was once a two storey brick unit in the Myola St gated community.

 

Investigators comb through the fire ruins by shovel and hand where two bodies where found overnight in Browns Plains. PICTURE: Brad Fleet
Investigators comb through the fire ruins by shovel and hand where two bodies where found overnight in Browns Plains. PICTURE: Brad Fleet

A few officers from both police and fire services, along with a lone tradesman are sorting through charred roof awnings and pieces of brick by hand.

Ms Langham, suspected of being killed when her home went up in flames, changed her locks just days ago after getting a domestic violence order, neighbours claim.

Autopsies will be conducted to determine if they are Ms Langham, 49, and Mr Hely, 49, both who are still missing.

Police at the scene. PICTURE: Brad Fleet
Police at the scene. PICTURE: Brad Fleet

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk addressed the incident at a press conference on Tuesday morning.

"It's an absolute tragedy, I understand the police are doing a thorough investigation there and look I just have to wait to see what the police say," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"It's just unbelievable this is happening in this day and age."

Ms Langham was living alone in a gated complex in Browns Plains and was believed to have been in fear of Mr Hely - with police confirming she had been granted a temporary protection order in court on February 9.

Doreen Langham died in the fire at her Browns Plains unit just days after changing the locks and getting a domestic violence order.
Doreen Langham died in the fire at her Browns Plains unit just days after changing the locks and getting a domestic violence order.

Police and firefighters were called to the Myola St complex in the early hours of Monday morning after a ferocious fire tore through Ms Langham's home.

The fire broke out shortly before 4am, with neighbours describing how the blaze consumed the house with terrifying speed.

A woman from the complex said she heard a woman screaming a man's name moments before the building exploded in flames.

Others said they heard the sounds of arguing and glass breaking before a loud explosion.

"It was a terrifying scream for help," said neighbour Hannah McCormick.

"I heard a lady screaming out for help, she just started screaming out (his name).

"She was yelling his name, it was terrifying."

Miss McCormick said police had been to the house just days earlier, for an incident she described as a woman "being thrown out a window".

Another neighbour claimed to have heard a large fight at the home a few nights ago.

The unnamed resident recalled hearing screaming, glass breaking and the sound of what they described as metal chains being dragged along the floor.

"Absolutely terrible to wake up to," one woman said of yesterday's fire.

"No idea how the fire started but to go up as fast as it did - I'm not sure how that happened."

The woman said she woke up at 3.30am to get ready for work and heard "slight screams".

Witnesses report the fire took hold of the property very fast. Picture: Nikita Rush
Witnesses report the fire took hold of the property very fast. Picture: Nikita Rush

 

Firefighters and police are continuing to investigate the cause of the blaze. Picture: Brad Fleet
Firefighters and police are continuing to investigate the cause of the blaze. Picture: Brad Fleet

 

Fifteen minutes later, someone was banging on her door telling her to get out.

"I went to get ready and someone was downstairs banging and screaming for us to get out as the place (a few) doors up was on fire," she said.

"I only saw her (Ms Langham) the other day as she was getting out of her car. I hadn't seen him for a few weeks but had seen the police come and go a few times in the last few months.

"It was just so sad to watch it happening in front of us."

Chief Superintendent Brian Swan said a 49-year-old woman and a 49-year-old man - her former partner - were feared dead inside the house.

 

He confirmed the woman had been granted a temporary protection order in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court on February 9.

Investigators had not been able to do a proper search of the home because it was not safe to enter what was left of the building, he said.

"The scene is such that it is quite a complex scene, quite a difficult scene," Chief Supt Swan said.

"It will be some time before we can safely search to see if there are remains present."

Chief Supt Swan said police were investigating the nature of the relationship, but confirmed a domestic violence order had been issued.

Doreen Langham’s ex-partner Gary Hely.
Doreen Langham’s ex-partner Gary Hely.

 

He said it was too early to tell whether an accelerant was used in the fire.

"Any incidents concerning the couple will form part of the wider investigation," Chief Supt Swan said.

A second crime scene was set up at a nearby shopping strip where the man's car - a silver utility - was found.

According to one shopkeeper at the Wembley Rd shops, police towed a car from the carpark at 9am on Monday.

Later in the morning, cadaver dogs were brought in to help police find the couple's bodies.

By early evening, nothing had been found and an excavator was seen arriving on scene.

Neighbour Kevin, who requested his last name be omitted, told The Courier-Mail he had seen police respond to domestic violence incidents at the home "at least four times in the last month".

 

Suspicious house fire in Myloa Street, Browns Plains where police believe two people have died. Photographer: Liam Kidston.
Suspicious house fire in Myloa Street, Browns Plains where police believe two people have died. Photographer: Liam Kidston.

 

"I stood there and watched the place burn to the ground, I heard those windows smash," he said.

"How many times did police have to come to this house? She had a [protection order] on him. Why was she not protected?

"Why were the police not more proactive in this?"

Kevin said he was one of the first responders and had tried to gain access into the burning home before emergency services arrived, but the blaze was too powerful to enter.

Ms Langham works as a warranty clerk at a trucking company, while Mr Hely is a truck driver.

His social media profiles feature a series of photographs of the two of them together, most of them romantically posed, despite them no longer being in a relationship.

A post Mr Hely wrote on a job seeking website said he had moved to Queensland from interstate and was looking for work as a truck driver.

"I class myself as fit and healthy so taking days off is not something I do often," he wrote.

Mr Hely appeared to have been in Queensland since April 2019 and has worked in Brisbane, the Darling Downs region and Northern NSW over the past year.

 

 

 

Originally published as Neighbours reveal chilling details of violent days before fire


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