The sister of a man who jumped off a 36m high dam while holding his baby daughter Kobi has broken her silence on the murder-suicide.
On Wednesday afternoon Henry Shepherdson, 38, leapt from the 36metre Whispering Wall dam in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, with the innocent baby strapped to his chest while onlookers watched on in horror.
Police say witnesses desperately did what they could to stop him, and others performed CPR on little Kobi, who initially survived the fall, until emergency services arrived about 4.30pm. She was declared dead about 15 minutes later, while Shepherdson died on impact.
Shepherdson’s sister shared her profound grief to social media on Thursday night.
Shepherdson’s sister shared her profound grief on social media on Thursday night, saying Kobi was ‘robbed in the cruelest way’
Shepherdson’s sister shared a series of photos of nine-month-old Kobi, who was named after late NBA star Kobe Bryant
Shepherdson’s old social media posts about mental health awareness have resurfaced, hauntingly foreshadowing Wednesday’s tragedy
‘We are completely devastated. My heart is heavy and my tears are dry, robbed in the most cruelest way of my beautiful niece Kobi,’ she wrote alongside photos of the nine-month-old, who was named after late NBA star Kobe Bryant.
‘Auntie loves you little poppet, you’ll be forever in my heart. We all grieve differently please respect our privacy as we go through these emotions.’
Meanwhile, Shepherdson’s old social media posts about mental health awareness have resurfaced, hauntingly foreshadowing Wednesday’s tragedy.
‘MENTAL HEALTH in this world is getting out of hand! RIP Ches,’ he wrote in July 2017.
‘PLEASE SPEAK UP – IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY!’ read a second post written the following day.
Just hours before the murder-suicide, Shepherdson appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court to fight an order that banned him from contacting or being within 200m of his family, or posting content of them online.
Henry Shepherdson jumped off a 36-metre high dam with his nine-month-old daughter Kobi (pictured) strapped to his chest. The father had been in court hours before murder-suicide
The man (not pictured) was already dead when emergency services found him at the bottom of the wall after 4.30pm. Paramedics tried to revive the baby but she also died at the scene
Paramedics were called to the Whispering Wall dam in the Barossa Valley about 4.30pm to respond to a psychiatric incident
He appeared in court on Wednesday to apply for the two conditions to be varied, The Adelaide Advertiser reported.
The case on Wednesday was then referred to the Abuse Prevention Program, designed as an ‘intervention’ initiative.
If he were still alive, Shepherdson would have been ordered to participate in counselling and treatment for rehabilitation.
The 38-year-old last appeared in court on March 19 for contravening an intervention order set by the courts.
Three weeks earlier, he was in court again facing several serious offences, including making threats to kill or endanger a life, commit aggravated assault against his own child or spouse and false imprisonment.
He had appeared in court on three other occasions throughout 2020 and 2019 for breaching the intervention order.
Assistant Commissioner Ian Parrott confirmed on Thursday the matter was being treated as a murder suicide.
Shepherdson was legally entitled to see Kobi, police said, despite earlier suggestions she had been kidnapped in light of his long list of previous charges relating to family violence.
Shepherdson’s social media was littered with references to his daughter, including one post in which he drew attention to National Child Protection Week
Shepherdson was legally entitled to see Kobi, despite earlier suggestions she had been kidnapped
Emergency services worked on the little girl for about 15 minutes before she, too, was declared dead at the scene
Mr Parrott admitted there was a lengthy history of domestic violence within the family and that Shepherdson was known to police.
While not at a liberty to discuss the details of the previous offences, he did say they occurred between Shepherdson and Kobi’s mother.
‘We have been involved on some domestic violence incidents in the past and there are court orders in place in relation to the family,’ Mr Parrott said.
‘It’s resulted in this absolutely tragic outcome.’
Mr Parrott said Shepherdson was legally allowed to see Kobi and he ‘didn’t believe’ it was meant to be supervised access.
‘The baby was not taken. There was a very short time frame between the public having notified us that the incident had occurred and Kobi’s mother making contact with triple-0,’ he said.
Despite the ban on posting material of his family on the internet, Shepherdson’s social media was littered with references to his daughter, including one post in which he drew attention to National Child Protection Week.
He frequently posted videos and pictures of Kobi for the world to see on social media, including a final video showing the little girl babbling and laughing as her dad spoke ‘baby talk’ to her.
Back in November, Shepherdson uploaded a sweet video of Kobi as she babbled and played in her rocker. It was his final post before he died.
Shepherdson spoke baby talk to her as she watched her father, giggling at him as he made noises to get her attention.
Back in November, Shepherdson uploaded a sweet video of Kobi as she babbled and played in her rocker. It was his final post before he died
Kobi’s face will be ‘the face of domestic violence moving forward’, Mr Parrot said, urging the public to ‘remember her beautiful face’ through photos that her heartbroken mother has supplied to the police
Kobi (pictured) was killed after her father plunged from the Whispering Wall in South Australia
Despite the outward displays of affection, Shepherdson had a sickening criminal history
An open beer bottle was visible in the corner of the video.
‘I love you Kobi,’ he told her in the footage. ‘Yes I do love you Kobi bear, you little cutie… You are so adorable bubba.’
It was one of a stream of sappy posts with his daughter which have since been bombarded with messages of outrage from the public.
Despite the outward displays of affection, Shepherdson had a sickening criminal history.
Despite frequently sharing updates about Kobi, who is named after late basketballer Kobe Bryant, Shepherdson was hesitant to share photos of himself online.
Kobi’s heartbroken mother shared a selection of adorable pictures of her happy baby with the hope that she will be remembered for how much joy she brought her family.
Mr Parrot said it was likely her smiley face will become ‘the face of domestic violence’ moving forward.
Timeline of emergency response
4:30pm – Ambulance from Hamley Bridge station is sent out to respond to a ‘psychiatric’ incident
4:32pm – SA Ambulance Service send out another unit from Hamley Bridge for an ’emergency’ callout
4:32pm – Dispatch send out another unit from Playford ambulance station – which is closer to the dam – for the same ’emergency’
4:32pm – A third ambulance is sent from nearby Oakden station
4:36pm – An urgent call is made for a MEDSTAR (Medical Shock Trauma/Acute Resuscitation) helicopter
4:40pm – Call placed to the SAAS Special Operations Team – a team of highly-trained rescue paramedics.
4.42pm – Emergency crews request permission for the helicopter to land
4.48pm – Mission changes to a body retrieval
A formal identification process is yet to take place, and the investigation will continue.
Late on Wednesday, a chilling dispatch log uncovered by Daily Mail Australia revealed the chaotic moments that unfolded as ambulances, police crews and rescue teams raced to the tourist spot, where they found stunned tourists watching on in horror.
Mr Parrott said several witnesses had tried to stop him from jumping and talk him off the ledge.
The callout was listed as ‘psychiatric’ on an emergency services scanner; a term used for an incident involving mental illness or a suicide attempt.
Two minutes later, a call for help was placed to teams from the Playford and Oakden ambulance stations for an ’emergency’ situation that was unfolding.
Things escalated as units arrived at the dam, with the MEDSTAR (Medical Shock Trauma/Acute Resuscitation) helicopter sent at 4.36pm.
Just minutes after that team was called, emergency services sent out its Special Operations Team – a crew of paramedics who specialise in high-risk search and rescue procedures usually involving water and cliff rescues.
One mother, who claims she was at the popular lookout with her children, took to social media to describe the horror she witnessed.
‘So painful having to see what happened with my babies,’ she said.
Local MP Stephan Knoll vowed to investigate the safety of the region if a coronial inquest found it was lacking.
‘It is a very popular tourist attraction and something that young people and kids of generations have been going to visit and not before have we heard or seen of an incident like this,’ he said.
A chilling dispatch log (above) shows how the first team of paramedics from Hamley Bridge station were sent to a suspected psychiatric incident
‘But, having said that, if things need to be done to modify the structure, then that’s something we need to look at.’
He also said the incident was awful.
‘It is just heartbreaking… it does hit everybody hard… and we all do need to band together,’ Knoll told ABC Radio Adelaide.
Police said they are not seeking anyone else in relation to the deaths at this stage.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing mental health issues contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
DV Crisis Line 1800 800 098
As more crews arrived the mission changed to a rescue mission and then body retrieval
What is the Whispering Wall?
The Whispering Wall is the retaining wall of the Barossa Reservoir, and in recent years has become a tourist attraction for carrying sound from one side to the other.
‘What draws visitors to the Whispering Wall is its unique acoustic effects: words whispered at one side can be clearly heard at the other, more than 100 metres away. Children in particular love visiting the wall and testing its abilities,’ the Barossa website says.
‘Children in particular love visiting the wall and testing its abilities.’
Built between 1899 and 1903, the dam was a revolutionary engineering feat for its day and has attracted tourists from all over the world.