A mother of three in Australia was allegedly burned to death by her estranged husband — a former US Marine from Ohio, according to reports.
Kelly Wilkinson, 27, was allegedly assaulted and fatally burned in the backyard of her Arundel home along Australia’s Gold Coast, where she was found dead early Tuesday, The Australian reported.
Police said her alleged killer, Brian Earl Johnston, 34, had violated a domestic violence order prior to slaying his estranged wife. The Ohio native left the Marine Corps in 2005 and later married Wilkinson in 2012, according to the report.
The Post could not independently verify his military service record Wednesday.
Cops responded to the home after hearing screams and an explosion, 9News reported. Johnston was found semi-conscious on a front lawn several blocks away and neighbors said they spotted a man flee from the scene while injured, the station reported.
“He turned up in the bushes in the house next door to me – his left arm was heavily bandaged,” one neighbor said. “[A passerby] saw the fella and asked you know, ‘Are you OK, mate?’ He made some remark like, ‘I’m fine, but he had his head down.”
A neighbor who identified himself only as Benny told Daily Mail Australia Johnston had previously relayed fears of getting “kicked out” of the country.
“He mentioned there was the chance of him being deported, so in hindsight, he was in a bad mental state,” the man said. “Now I think I should have hopped out of the car and had a chat with him.”
The man, who wears a hearing aid, said his wife heard a “huge eruption of a fireball” in the backyard prior to the discovery of Wilkinson’s body. He then found the three children who were at the home in a driveway outside, the Daily Mail reported.
“We fed them, clothed them and then child safety arrived to take them,” Benny recalled. “We still have their dog Riley in our backyard.”
Cops reportedly found a melted fuel container, three knives and duct tape in Wilkinson’s backyard. A trail of blood led investigators to the property where he was arrested, the Australian reported.
Johnston served two tours of duty in Iraq in the aviation division of the Marines, but did not engage in combat, according to the Daily Mail.
A fellow Marine, meanwhile, told the outlet he last spoke to Johnston three weeks ago when he shared worries about his “wife and kids” in Australia.
“Last time I talked to Brian, his biggest fear was he had nobody in Australia but his wife and kids,” the friend said. “All his family was in Ohio and [Wilkinson] was making accusations against him. He told me he was living in his office and didn’t know what to do.”
Johnston was “struggling with the fact” that Wilkinson didn’t want to be with him, his friend said.
Johnston was charged with murder, contravention of a domestic violence order and breach of bail condition late Tuesday, the Brisbane Times reported. He was ordered held in custody and is expected to return to court on June 4.
He did not appear Wednesday for a hearing in Southport Magistrates Court and remains at a hospital in serious but stable condition with burn injuries. He could not talk to investigators or his attorney due to the burns, including some to his airways, the newspaper reported.
Johnston’s attorney, Chris Hannay, said he could not comment on whether he’s the father of one or all three children who were at the home, News.com.au reported.
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