On Friday, the man who was meant to protect 12-year-old Tiahleigh Palmer – her foster father Rick Thorburn – was sentenced to life in jail for her murder.
The Queensland girl had been placed in his family’s care in January 2015, but 57-year-old Thorburn killed her nine months later and dumped her body beside a Gold Coast river.
The calculated betrayal was an attempt to cover up his 18-year-old son Trent’s incestuous abuse of the girl, fearing she was pregnant, and keep him out of jail.
New details have since emerged outlining how police came to reconsider the Thorburns as suspects, after they’d been playing the role of the grieving family.
Channel Nine current affairs program 60 Minutes reports that it was a phone call in May 2016 that put detectives’ focus back on the Thorburns, who’d claimed Tiahleigh vanished after leaving for school.
“An anonymous call came through,” Detective Damien Hansen told reporter Tara Brown.
“There was a Facebook message sent from Trent outlining a sexual activity with Tiahleigh, and that there’d been a family meeting the night before she disappeared.”
The Queensland Police Homicide investigator said the message from Trent was revealing to his cousin he had sex with his foster sister and was worried she was pregnant.