MARCUS Volke had an intense gaze that went straight through you.
That’s how one schoolmate described the former Ballarat man who is believed to be responsible for the murder and dismemberment of his Indonesian girlfriend at a Brisbane apartment.
It is believed Mr Volke, 28, killed Mayang Prasetyo at the apartment they shared before fleeing from police on Saturday night and taking his own life.
Mr Volke’s mother Dorothy told the ABC she had not had any indication anything was wrong with her chef son.
“I’m not sure what he was doing – last we knew he was working on boats,” she said.
The news came as a shock to many in Ballarat, with a number of people taking to Facebook to air their disbelief of the incident.
“This truly shocked me, I’m saddened to see the turn his life took,” wrote Kathryn Ebery.
“He was a friend to me. They have not yet determined the details beyond the obvious so it cannot be said why this happened. My condolences to their families.”
Sarah Smith wrote: “Please think of his friends and family and hers. This is a shock to all who knew him.”
However one former schoolmate, who asked not to be named, said Mr Volke also had a darker side.
“He was a good guy, he was a bit up and down, he could lose his temper like anyone can but for the most part he was just like anyone else. He was just one of the boys,” he told The Courier.
“He was always a little different. He wasn’t a happy-go-lucky guy like the rest of us – he was a bit dark.”
Before moving to Brisbane, Mr Volke had lived in Haddon and attended Ballarat High School.
He had a keen interest in martial arts and was a member of Haddon’s Damashii Dojo.
The schoolmate said Mr Volke was a popular student who had a reasonably large group of friends.
A young transgender cabaret performer has been revealed as the woman murdered, dismembered, then boiled in a chemical stew, reportedly by her boyfriend, in an inner Brisbane apartment.
Mr Volke met Ms Prasetyo while both worked for an international cruise ship company and moved into their apartment in the recently completed Double One 3 complex in Commercial Road just weeks ago.
Police are yet to officially confirm Ms Prasetyo's identity but friends took to social media on Monday to express their grief over the loss of a young woman one described as "always such a happy, cheerful person".
Ms Prasetyo was the family's breadwinner, sending money back to Indonesia to support two teenage sisters.
During an interview with News Corp, mother Nining Sukarni referred to Ms Prasetyo as her son Febri. Ms Sukarni said she had spoken to Febri on Thursday and things seemed "fine".
"Febri did not feel at home in Brisbane, however, he started to breed dogs about a month ago and hoped that would keep him occupied," Ms Sukarni said.
In a profile on the dating-focused social media site Badoo, Ms Prasetyo described herself as, "a sexy shemale in Bali".
Her Facebook profile also lists her previous employer as the Melbourne-based transgender cabaret show, Le Femme Garcon.
Her friend Brett Sparks paid tribute to Ms Prasetyo as "always such a happy, cheerful person".
"Rip beautiful, the world will not be the same without you ... I will miss you so much I couldn't possibly express it in words. I still remember the day I met you and the impression you made on me. Nobody that met you could ever forget you. This really doesn't seem real..." Mr Sparks posted on her Facebook page.
Another friend, Brett Whitehouse, said the "world is less full of the spark with which you shared".
"Rest in Peace in the stars from where you came my dear friend. Most amazing soul I have ever met," he wrote.
Ms Prasetyo appeared to have died several days before police knocked on the couple's apartment door on Saturday night and made the most gruesome of discoveries.
Police are treating the deaths as a murder-suicide.
Like many young couples in large inner-city apartment complexes the pair kept largely to themselves.
It was a way of life that would enable Mr Volke's grisly crime to be concealed for almost a week.
Until police arrived on Saturday no-one in the building had noticed the woman neighbours described as "stunning" was even missing.
What they had noticed was an increasingly unbearable smell described as like "rotting meat", which unbeknown to them was emanating from the couple's apartment.
It's a thought that does not sit comfortably with Courtney Reichart, a fellow resident of the apartment complex in leafy Teneriffe.
"That poor girl has sat there for however many days and we've just been walking past, living our lives, and thinking `what's that smell?'" she said.
Detectives are still trying to establish what prompted the young chef to kill his 27-year-old girlfriend, cut her into pieces and boil her severed body parts in chemicals.
The same mystery confronts his family in Ballarat, where the young chef grew up, who appear equally perplexed by the gruesome crime.
His mother Dorothy Volke confirmed it was her son who had died in the tragedy but said he gave no hint there was anything amiss the last time she spoke with him.
She said he had told them of his Indonesian girlfriend but that she and her husband were yet to meet her.
"I'm not sure what he was doing - last we knew he was working on boats," she told the ABC.
In an ironic twist one of two Facebook pages Mr Volke maintained revealed him to be an outspoken opponent of violence against women as well a staunch advocate for ending animal cruelty.
Police and forensic investigators concluded their examination of the two crime scenes in Teneriffe about midday on Monday, leaving residents to come to grips with the horrors that unfolded behind closed doors without them even knowing.
"I only met her a couple of times and that was only a quick hello and to pat the dog," Courtney Reichart said.
"They seemed quite friendly, they didn't seem like they had any issues, but it was a quick meet and greet."
• If you are suffering depression or feeling distressed, visit beyondblue.org.au or call Lifeline on 131 114.