Four boys arrested over the alleged home-invasion murder of a mother-of-two were living in a nearby halfway house that accommodates youth offenders and had been causing trouble in the weeks leading up to the tragedy.
All teenage occupants of the modest brick North Lakes home, in Brisbane‘s north, were taken into custody on Tuesday over the death of Emma Lovell, 41, who was allegedly stabbed trying to protect her husband Lee, 43, and their two daughters from intruders.
Two 17-year-olds – from Zillmere and Holland Park – have been charged with murder and attempted murder while police continue to question two other boys, aged 16 and 17.
Mr Lovell suffered non-fatal injuries and has since been released from hospital.
Four boys arrested over the alleged home-invasion murder of mother-of-two Emma Lovell, 41, were living in a nearby halfway house (pictured) in North Lakes, in Brisbane’s north
Ms Lovell (left) was allegedly stabbed trying to protect her husband Lee, 43, (right) and their two daughters from intruders on Monday night
Neighbour Travis Zealy addressed reporters on the street where Ms Lovell was allegedly stabbed
Police confirmed on Tuesday all four teenagers were ‘known to police’.
One of the two boys charged with murdering the mum was out on bail when the tragedy occured
Now, Daily Mail Australia can exclusively reveal all the teenagers were living in a halfway house just metres away.
Neighbour Tracey said boys and girls living at the home next door would fluctuate, with different individuals moving in and out every few weeks.
She said her family were not told when the home was bought by a charity organisation in May 2021 that it would be used as a living facility for juvenile offenders.
They soon discovered the purpose of the purchase from another resident, who knew the realtor, when they begun to see various youths trailing in and out of the home.
Over the past 18 months, they have witnessed cops repeatedly storming into the home, heard skirmishes in the street, and smelt drugs wafting over their back fence.
‘We sometimes smell them smoking marijuana, and hear them drinking out the back,’ she said.
‘One group we could hear them bragging about a car. Some looked as young as 13. None of them have had cars, so we’d always see them walking around the neighbourhood.’
Neighbour Tracey said boys and girls living at the home next door (pictured) would fluctuate, with different individuals moving in and out every few weeks
While their antics were sometimes loud, neighbour Tracey said the teenagers in the house (pictured) generally kept to themselves and did not disturb other tenants
Tracey said there never seemed to be a live-in supervisor, although they once heard a man inside explaining the house rules to the tenants.
While their antics were sometimes loud, Tracey said the teenagers generally kept to themselves and did not disturb neighbours.
However, neighbours did witness some clashes, including an incident where a social worker chased a screaming youth down the street.
In another instance, one group of boys banged on Tracey’s son’s car as he drove towards their home.
When she went over to tell them not to do it again, she was taken aback by how young they looked.
‘They were apologetic said ‘sorry we thought it was a car that had been chasing up further the road’,’ she said.
She said the recent group had only moved in a few weeks ago, and appeared quiet compared to previous tenants.
Bouquets of flowers were seen resting against a tree outside the Lovell’s North Lakes home
A member of the public dropped off a fruit platter at the front door of the Lovell’s home
A man was seen leaving a bouquet of flowers outside the home of alleged stabbing victim Emma Lovell
A community chaplain was seen laying flowers outside the Lovell home on Wednesday
In recent days, however, she had noticed a series of graffiti tags saying ‘Northside’ scrawled along fences, walls and power boxes, near the halfway house.
She was unsure if the group were affiliated with the notorious ‘Northside’ gang – a group of young teens known for carjackings, violence, and break ins then boasting about the crimes online – or if the spray-painted messages were the work of their associates who have visited the home.
However, her husband had a peculiar encountered with one of the boys in recent weeks, when the teenager popped his head above the fence to peer into their yard.
‘He looked over and asked me if I knew anyone who could get him some pot,’ he said.
‘I think he was trying to scope out who lived next door.’
Her husband said residents deserved to be informed before halfway houses were set up on their street.
‘You’ve got a bunch of young guys, out on bail for offending, dumped into the community with no supervision,’ he said.
‘They are predators. There was one guy who would come and check up on them occasionally but I haven’t seen him for weeks.
‘And now look what has [allegedly] happened.’
The Lovells had just returned from a Christmas trip to the Sunshine Coast when they allegedly discovered two intruders inside their Whitfield Crescent home about 11.30pm on Boxing Day
Two 17-year-olds – from Zillmere and Holland Park – have been charged with murder and attempted murder while police continue to question two other boys, aged 16 and 17
The man said an officer had told him investigators will be inquiring into how much supervision was provided to the youths at the home.
Meanwhile, other residents say they were rattled to learn about the nature of the home in light of the recent arrests.
One elderly woman said she was ‘nervous’ to sleep last night, while another neighbour who recently moved into the street said ‘we won’t be staying for long [now]’.
As their street became a crime scene on Tuesday, homes adjacent to the halfway house were taped off as investigators scoured the scene.
Police were seen using a metal detector to search across the front lawn of the properties in the near vicinity.
The Lovells had just returned from a Christmas trip to the Sunshine Coast when they allegedly discovered two intruders inside their Whitfield Crescent home about 11.30pm on Boxing Day.
Mr Lovell told Daily Mail Australia his wife, pictured with her best friend of 30 years Christina Lofthouse) had been the ‘glue’ in their family
Emergency services rushed to the scene, but despite their best efforts, Mrs Lovell died shortly after arriving at hospital.
Tributes have continued to flow online for Mrs Lovell, who ran a local ironing service, as she is remembered as a ‘beautiful person’ by devastated loved ones.
Mr Lovell told Daily Mail Australia his wife had been the ‘glue’ in their family.
‘She was funny, smart, so caring, would do anything for anyone,’ he said.
‘She died trying to protect me and our family. We’re all devastated by what has happened. I miss her so much.’
The alleged attack has renewed calls for the Queensland government to crack down on youth offending (pictured, the Lovell family)
The alleged attack has renewed calls for the Queensland government to crack down on youth offending.
Assistant Minister for Children and Families Michelle Landry said youth crime in the state is ‘totally out of control’.
‘There needs to be tough legislation introduced from parliament,’ the federal MP for Capricornia wrote on Facebook.
‘No one feels safe in their own home! We need immediate action.’
The two 17-year-old boys, who have also been charged with enter a dwelling with intent, are due to face Brisbane Children’s court on Wednesday.