Killer father John Edwards was hiding at his daughter’s ice rink before murdering children
John Edwards showed up at the rink where his estranged daughter took skating lessons and watched from afar in the months before Jennifer and her brother Jack died, his coach told police.
The 68-year-old cut a lonely figure at the Macquarie Park ice rink, standing out by choosing a seat in the upper corner of the seating area and wearing inappropriate clothing for the cold.
But it wasn’t until Edwards’ face appeared in the news that the coach realized who he was.
On July 5, 2018, Edwards murdered his children with a legally acquired gun before taking his own life. Their mother, Olga, committed suicide five months later.
Olga’s murder-suicide and subsequent death shocked the nation and sparked an overhaul of NSW’s gun registry.
An inquest last year investigated how Edwards obtained a gun despite his long history of domestic violence and revealed his practice of stalking his family members, including his adult daughter and Olga.
In a statement to police, released to NCA NewsWire following the investigation, Jennifer’s ice skating coach, Vicki Ann Ayres, said she noticed a man at the rink in January 2018 during the 10:30 a.m. class which took place after Jennifer’s two-hour lesson at 8:30 a.m.
“He was out of place because we don’t have weird people at the rink,” she said in a witness statement. “He just sat there, not interacting with anyone and looking like a statue.”
He reappeared around April 2018 and stayed for the entire 10:30 a.m. lesson, she told police.
“I thought it was weird that he was in the same place again and not moving around or interacting with anyone. It was about four degrees in there and he was not clothed than a sweater.
Ms Ayres described 13-year-old Jennifer as a ‘wonderful, super smart, funny kid’ and a talented skater.
During a family law proceeding that began in April 2016 and continued until Jack and Jennifer’s deaths, the teenagers revealed to several professionals that their father had physically abused them and that they would not didn’t want to see it.
Olga wrote in an affidavit that Jack slept with a cricket bat in his bedroom and Jennifer with a knife under her pillow for self-defense.
Edwards was not supposed to know the Thornleigh address the trio moved to directly after leaving the family home, nor the West Pennant Hills house they later rented, where Jack and Jennifer were killed.
Despite all of this, state coroner Teresa O’Sullivan wrote in her findings, Edwards continued to show up unexpectedly after the separation.
He appeared at children’s schools, at Olga’s yoga class, at Jennifer’s 6th grade graduation where he tried to give her a dog, and he “ran into” Jack at the train station one day.
He also hired private detectives to follow Olga and “see if she meets a boyfriend.”
In February 2018, a judge awarded sole custody to Olga, noting that it was up to the children whether or not to continue seeing their father.
He was spotted at the rink after that time.
On July 5, 2018, he tracked Jennifer down to her home from Pennant Hills train station and chased her inside before shooting her and Jack.
“Investigation evidence has shown that Olga, Jack and Jennifer disclosed their experiences of violence and abuse perpetrated by Edwards to multiple agencies, entities and professionals within the police and family law system” , wrote the coroner.
“Unfortunately, no one was able to mobilize effectively to protect Jack, Jennifer or Olga.
“To describe this as a tragedy is to import a sense of inevitability, that nothing could have been done to change the outcome.
“Instead, the evidence presented in this court clearly reveals that the deaths of Jack and Jennifer Edwards were preventable.”