POLICE are desperate to speak to 44-year-old grain farmer Geoffrey Hunt after his wife and three children were shot dead on a farm in Lockhart in rural NSW.
Police found the bodies of Mr Hunt’s wife Kim Hunt, 41, and their son Fletcher, 10, and daughters Mia, eight and Phoebe, six, Tuesday afternoon on their Boree Creek Rd farm, 60km west of Wagga Wagga.
The property, called Watch Hill, is one of a number of large grain farms in the district.
Lockhart Deputy Mayor Rodger Schirmer said Mr Hunt was a “good, strong family-minded person”.
“Geoff is a good community member and a good farmer,” Mr Schirmer said.
“Geoff’s family have farmed in the district for at least three generations.”
Police said the children were found inside the house while Mrs Hunt was found on a path at the home’s rear.
The ABC reported Ms Hunt was in a serious car accident two years ago in which she suffered head injuries, but had since recovered.
Forensic officers arrived at the Boree Creek Rd property shortly after 7.30pm and *remained at the scene with homicide detectives overnight.
Strike Force Tullaroan has been formed to investigate the deaths.
Mr Schirmer said Mr Hunt had a solid group of friends and was a keen water skier and AFL fan.
His parents still live in the district and he has two brothers.
“The family is a normal, solid family in the district,” Mr Schirmer said.
“This event will be devastating for the 900 people in the town because everybody knows everybody and cares about everybody else.
“Something like this has just come out of the blue and is an incredible tragedy.”
The family’s three children all attended St Joseph’s School, Lockhart.
Local media reported that a couple arrived at the home yesterday afternoon and were visibly distressed.
Last night police were searching for the children’s Mr Hunt, who was missing from the house.
Two crime scenes have been established at the property. One is located at the homestead; the other is near a dam where police searching the property found an abandoned ute.
Police divers will search the dam and other waterways today.
“While a post-mortem (examination) will be conducted to formally *establish the cause of their deaths, they are believed to have all suffered gunshot wounds,” A police spokesman said.
“Police have grave concerns for a man, aged in his 40s, who remains unaccounted for. A search of the property is still being conducted.”
State Emergency Service volunteers also remained overnight to assist with lighting at the rural property while police continued searching.
Lockhart Mayor Peter Yates said the grain farming family had lived in the district a long time and the town was at a loss over the tragedy.
“It’s been devastating,” he said. “No one can understand it.
“It’s mind-boggling that these young lives could be cut so short. Everyone wants to know why,” he said.
Mr Yates said Lockhart had only three police officers and it would have been horrific for them, along with other emergency service workers, to have attended the farmhouse where the four victims were found.
He said it had not been easy for farmers in recent years.
“We had the floods in 2010 and 2012 and in the last few years we have had devastating frost associated with the dry at crucial growing times,” Mr Yates said.
Mr Yates, who lives 50km from Lockhart in Yerong, said he would travel to the shell-shocked town of 1300 residents today.