Sydney mother Maria Lutz receives posthumous school award

A mother who was killed with her two disabled children and husband in a horrific murder-suicide has received a top school honour.

Maria Claudia Lutz, 43, was gassed to death inside her family home on Sydney’s northern beaches last year.

The devoted mother’s body was found alongside her husband Fernando Manrique, 44, and their two severely autistic children Elisa, 11, and Martin, 10.

It’s believed Mr Manrique set up an elaborate system of pipes to pump odourless carbon monoxide gas into the house, which resulted in his family’s deaths.

Maria Lutz, 43, (centre), was gassed to death alongside her two severely autistic children Elisa, 11, and Martin, 10. She received a posthumous award on Friday night for her tireless work at the special needs school her children went to in Wahroonga 

Maria Lutz, 43, (centre), was gassed to death alongside her two severely autistic children Elisa, 11, and Martin, 10. She received a posthumous award on Friday night for her tireless work at the special needs school her children went to in Wahroonga 

Maria Lutz, 43, (centre), was gassed to death alongside her two severely autistic children Elisa, 11, and Martin, 10. She received a posthumous award on Friday night for her tireless work at the special needs school her children went to in Wahroonga 

It's believed her husband Fernando Manrique set up an elaborate system of pipes to pump odourless carbon monoxide gas into the house (pictured), which resulted in his family's deaths

It's believed her husband Fernando Manrique set up an elaborate system of pipes to pump odourless carbon monoxide gas into the house (pictured), which resulted in his family's deaths

It’s believed her husband Fernando Manrique set up an elaborate system of pipes to pump odourless carbon monoxide gas into the house (pictured), which resulted in his family’s deaths

The posthumous award for an 'outstanding contribution by an individual parent' was accepted by Mrs Lutz' close friends on Friday night (pictured)

The posthumous award for an 'outstanding contribution by an individual parent' was accepted by Mrs Lutz' close friends on Friday night (pictured)

The posthumous award for an ‘outstanding contribution by an individual parent’ was accepted by Mrs Lutz’ close friends on Friday night (pictured)

On Friday night, Mrs Lutz was awarded a Posthumous Parent Award for Excellence by the NSW Parents’ Council for her work at St Lucy’s School in Wahroonga.

The Catholic school, which specialises in education for students with disablities, put forward a nomination for the ‘dedicated, passionate and remarkable’ mother. 

The school praised Mrs Lutz for her ‘enormous generosity of spirit, love for her children and amazing advocacy for children with disabilities, and their families.’

Mrs Lutz was a beloved member of the school and parent committees, and regularly volunteered to work in the canteen and help with reading and swimming lessons.

Mrs Lutz (her children pictured) was a member of the school and parent committees, and regularly volunteered to work in the canteen and help with reading and swimming lessons

Mrs Lutz (her children pictured) was a member of the school and parent committees, and regularly volunteered to work in the canteen and help with reading and swimming lessons

Mrs Lutz (her children pictured) was a member of the school and parent committees, and regularly volunteered to work in the canteen and help with reading and swimming lessons

Mrs Lutz had reportedly grown apart from her husband in the months before their deaths, and was struggling to cope with the difficulties of raising two disabled children

Mrs Lutz had reportedly grown apart from her husband in the months before their deaths, and was struggling to cope with the difficulties of raising two disabled children

Mrs Lutz had reportedly grown apart from her husband in the months before their deaths, and was struggling to cope with the difficulties of raising two disabled children

St Lucy’s School deputy principal Susan Jones told the Sydney Morning Herald that Mrs Lutz was an ‘amazing parent’ who ‘never gave up.’ 

‘She worked really hard to make sure (the school) gave them the best they could and that we appreciated the gifts in these children,’ Ms Jones told the publication.

‘At the same time there will never by another Maria, she was such a dynamo.’

‘We talk about her and the kids every day.’ 

The posthumous award for an ‘outstanding contribution by an individual parent’ was accepted by her close friend Sarina Marchi. 

Mr Manrique was seen tinkering with pipes in the roof only days before the family-of-four's bodies were found

Mr Manrique was seen tinkering with pipes in the roof only days before the family-of-four's bodies were found

Mr Manrique was seen tinkering with pipes in the roof only days before the family-of-four’s bodies were found

'Outstanding contribution by an individual parent': The award given to Mrs Lutz by the NSW Parents' Council

'Outstanding contribution by an individual parent': The award given to Mrs Lutz by the NSW Parents' Council

‘Outstanding contribution by an individual parent’: The award given to Mrs Lutz by the NSW Parents’ Council

Before Mrs Lutz’ tragic death, she had reportedly told friends she was desperate to return to her native Colombia to be closer to her family.

Friends said the couple had grown apart, and the mother was struggling to cope with the pressures of raising two children with nonverbal autism.  

‘She felt completely alone and was a broken woman and depressed,’ a friend told the Daily Telegraph last year.

Mr Manrique was seen tinkering with pipes in the roof only days before the family-of-four’s bodies were found. 

Gas bottles were found inside the kitchen and police said they were not seeking any other suspects in the deaths.

Mrs Lutz was discovered in a room with one of her children, while her other child was found in a separate room. Mr Manrique was in a different room on his own. 

Mrs Lutz and Mr Manrique (pictured together) were discovered in different rooms

Mrs Lutz and Mr Manrique (pictured together) were discovered in different rooms

Mrs Lutz and Mr Manrique (pictured together) were discovered in different rooms

 

 


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