The boyfriend of a mother found dead alongside her two children and one of their best friends after a sleepover has appeared in court charged with their murders.
Damien Bendall, 31, had been detained at the scene by police after they discovered the four bodies in his home in Chandos Crescent in Killamarsh, Derbyshire.
This morning detectives investigating the killings charged him with the four murders.
Bendall appeared via video link at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court over the murders of Terri Harris,35, her children Lacey Bennett,11 her brother John Paul,12 , their friend Connie Gent,11.
Shaven headed Bendall spoke only to confirm his name,date of birth and address during a brief four-minute hearing. He did not enter a plea.
He was remanded in custody by magistrate deputy district judge Gary Garland until Friday when he will appear at Derby Crown Court.
Relatives of Ms Harris said that Bendall had been in a relationship with her.
Emotional tributes were paid to the children by their parents as a vigil was held on Monday to remember them.
Charlie Gent said ‘my little girl has gone’ and ‘I don’t want anyone to ever go through what I am going through right now’ after losing his daughter Connie.
The devastated father said he ‘can’t put into words or even how to feel or react’ when asked about the attack that left his daughter dead.
Meanwhile Jason Bennett collapsed in tears as he laid flowers for his children Lacey and John Paul at the property.
Mr Bennett stayed at the scene for more than half-an-hour on Monday, and said he was ‘heartbroken; million pieces; shattered’.
Connie, Lacey, John Paul and Terri were found dead on Sunday morning in the house following the sleepover between best friends Connie and Lacey.
Derbyshire Police said yesterday a 31-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of murder at the scene, with officers not having any prior contact with those involved.
The authorities had only been called to the scene at 7.30am amid concerns for a man – understood to be the now-arrested suspect – before finding the four victims.
Murder squad detectives are also probing activity at the property at 9.45pm the night before – with any witnesses who heard or saw anything sought – while questions remained over what could have sparked the killings.
Hundreds of mourners headed to Baker Park, a children’s play area behind Chandos Crescent, at 6.30pm for an emotional vigil to the victims on Monday night.
Mr Gent paid tribute to daughter Connie, saying: ‘Parents, spend as much time with your kids as you possibly can.
‘If you’re a parent and arguing please don’t stop that child from seeing the other parent. You never know what’s round the corner.
‘I’ve learnt the hard way like most things in life and it’s too late and I don’t want anyone to ever go through what I am going through right now.
‘My little girl has gone, I can’t even put into words or even how to feel or react right now. I shouldn’t even be writing this, now I have to live with the fact I was helpless to protect her as I always promised and she’s gone.’
He added in the social media post: ‘Fly safe baby girl I love you with all my heart and always will. Going to miss you like crazy.’