Marie Groves last saw her friend Katie Perinovic at her daughter's birthday party at the end of November.
It was a warm spring day and the children, who had grown up living just a few hundred metres down the road from each other, played together all afternoon.
Katie Perinovic, 42, was found dead with her three children aged 3, 5, and 7 at their Tullamarine home.
On Thursday night, Ms Groves had to tell her two young daughters that Ms Perinovic and her children Claire, 7, Anna, 5, and Matthew, 3 had been found dead in their Tullamarine home.
"That was hard. Especially to Jasmine, my youngest. She's seven, she's one of Claire's friends," Ms Groves said.
"I had to [tell her] because she saw all the cars, and she saw people walking past and starting to mention names, because she was starting to look really worried and scared. It's really hard, it hasn't really sunk in properly."
Tomislav Perinovic, 48, and his wife Katie, 42. Ms Perinovic and their three children aged 3, 5, and 7 were found dead in their Tullamarine home. Credit:Facebook
Ms Groves said the neighbourhood was full of young families and all the children often played together in the street.
"Her kids were always playing in the street, but the past few weeks, I haven’t seen the family at all," she said.
"We always caught up for play dates. She was over here or we went over to their place. Our daughters did dance classes together. Katie did everything for those children. She was very protective of them and always wanted what was best for them."
Police were alerted to the discovery of the bodies of the mother and her three children just after 12.30pm on Thursday when a man – believed to be her husband Tomislav Perinovic, 48, the children’s father – called emergency services.
Homicide police continue to investigate the incident and senior police said on Thursday evening it was too soon to speculate about what had occurred inside the Burgess Street home.
On Friday morning, Burgess Street was reopened by police, although detectives remained at the scene.
Outside the brown brick home where the family lived, children's toys including a pink plastic teapot and yellow bucket were scattered in the front yard.
When asked by reporters if Mr Perinovic was a suspect, police said he was assisting them with their inquires and that murder-suicide remains a line of inquiry.
"He is a person of interest and assisting police with their inquiries," Victoria Police acting Deputy Commissioner Robert Hill said.
Police outside the Perinovic’s Tullamarine home on Friday morning.Credit:Wayne Taylor
"But we should not draw any conclusions at this point in time. If I was to do so, it would be grossly unfair."
He said there was no known history of family violence and that he was "not at liberty" to detail the nature of the injuries sustained by the family, or whether a weapon had been used.
"I don’t want to compromise the investigation," he said.
"The male has spoken to police and provided an account. We will work through this scene methodically. It is very important we do not speculate. The events are yet to be determined."
Police returned to the scene on Friday morning.Credit:Wayne Taylor
Friends and neighbours of Ms Perinovic and her three young children have been left struggling to comprehend the tragedy.
On Friday morning, strangers overcome by grief began to arrive at the scene, laying bunches of flowers outside the family's brown brick home.
Warrick, from Essendon, brought his wife and young child to lay down a small bouquet outside the house.
"We broke down crying when we saw it on the news," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with them. Our whole family are lots for words."
Warwick visited the scene with his wife and daughter to lay flowers on Friday morning.Credit:Wayne Taylor
A neighbour, whose children went to school with the Claire and Anna, said they hadn’t told their children of the deaths yet. He said he was unsure how to begin the conversation with his children and was hoping to get assistance on how to handle the conversation from the school.
The father, who did not want to be named, said his family live around the corner.
"Because we don’t know the full story, we don’t want to jump to conclusions," he said.
"Hopefully [the school] leads us in the right direction when talking to the kids because it’s not exactly something you talk to your kids about every day."
A child’s drawing in the window of the Perinovic’s home.Credit:Wayne Taylor
Friends said Ms Perinovic (nee Blazevic), who worked as a physiotherapist in nearby Glenroy, had grown up in Tullamarine, and had close family living nearby.
Ms Groves said Ms Perinovic had been extremely proud of her job as physiotherapist and had recently taken on the role of mentoring other young physiotherapists who were beginning their careers.
Tara Jenkins, who lives around the corner in Fisher Court, said she would often see Ms Perinovic take her children to the park, where they would play with her six-year-old son.
"I'm absolutely gutted," Ms Jenkins said. "Those kids were so young, just beautiful little kids."
A pink tea pot in the front yard of the Perinovic’s home.Credit:Wayne Taylor
Another neighbour John Constantino said he had spoken to Ms Perinovic the night before she died and was struggling to comprehend the tragedy.
"I was watering the garden about 7.30pm and she walked past and she seemed happy and everything," he said.
"She asked me what I was going to do tomorrow, I said, 'I might mow the lawn' and she said 'yeah, it's not going to be a hot day'."
He said described Ms Perinovic as a doting mother and said her children loved to pat his dogs when he would walk them past their house.
Northwest Metro Acting Assistant Commissioner Mark Galliott said there were many questions yet to be answered.
"Police will be there in the community, processing the scene throughout the night, so we get these answers," he said.
A distressed next-door neighbour said on Thursday he had gone outside mid-afternoon when he heard police sirens and was told to stay inside his home.
"It's very shocking, believe me," he said.
If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline 131 114, Beyond Blue 1300 224 636, or Kidshelpline 1800 55 1800.
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