A father of two is alleged to have killed his three-year-old son and then tried to kill his wife and himself after she said she wanted a divorce.
The boy, who has not been named, was discovered with multiple stab wounds after his mother called the police and said that her husband was trying to kill the children.
When police arrived at the council flat in Southwark, south London, the boy was dead, the mother, aged 28, had been stabbed in the neck and the father, who apparently turned the knife on himself, had "serious stab wounds". Their other child, a 17-month-old girl, was unhurt.
The mother was taken to hospital and later discharged. The father, aged 31, was also taken to hospital with "serious stab wounds". He was arrested on suspicion of murder last night.
The incident happened at the family's home on the Lynton Estate at about 6.15pm on Monday. Police sources say that the couple became involved in an argument after the mother told her husband she wanted to leave him. When he attacked the boy, the mother called 999. Neighbours also reported hearing an argument and some of them also phoned the police.
The death is being investigated by officers from the Child Abuse Investigation Command, the team who lead on all cases of infanticide. There is no suggestion that any of the children had previously been abused or that the family were known to social services.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed that officers know the identity of the child but that members of his family had still to be informed of his death. She added: "Officers are looking into all the circumstances surrounding the child's death. Officers investigating the death have arrested a 31-year-old man in connection with the incident."
As forensic teams searched the flat, neighbours on the estate spoke of their shock. Kelly Turner, 34, lives with her two children on the floor above the family. She said: "I heard her screaming downstairs in the car park, you could tell she [the mother] was in shock because she had a wound to her neck and she was losing quite a bit of blood. She was saying 'my kids, my kids'. That is when the police came in and knocked down the door and said 'where are the children'"?
Ms Turner said the family were "nice and quiet" and there had been no history of disturbances or noise from them in the block. She said they were known as regular church-goers. "The last time I saw them was Sunday. You could tell they were going to church because they would come out all smartly dressed."
Joan Dixon, 39, who has lived on the estate for 23 years, said: "What I heard was screaming, then the police turned up. We saw the ambulance and they were doing everything they could to resuscitate the man."
Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat MP for North Southwark and Bermondsey, said: "The news of a little boy's violent death in Bermondsey is almost too horrific to imagine. There will be huge shock and horror throughout the community, especially from those of us who live nearby."Reuse content