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How did the bodies of Khandalyce and her mother Karlie end up 1100km away from each other?

The latest on the investigation:

  • Why was a missing person’s report for Karlie Jade Pearce-Stevenson suddenly withdrawn just five days after it was filed?
  • The phone call that solved the mystery.
  • Police rule any involvement by the father of Khandalyce.
  • Police find photographs taken in a shopping centre showing Khandalyce wearing one of the dresses and the quilt used in appeals to find out who was the body in the suitcase.

A young woman’s bones found in the infamous Belangalo State Forest – unidentified for five years.

A little girl’s bones found 1100km away five years later.

There was no reason to link the two. No reason to think that for at least six years they had been separated. No reason to think that someone had violently and brutally murdered them and then dumped their bodies on two sides of Australia.

The double murder of Khandalyce and her mother Karlie.

There was no reason at all to link them until two weeks ago when police received a phone call.

In 2006 Khandalyce Kiara Pearce was born in Alice Springs to single mother Karlie Jade Pearce-Stevenson. Karlie just a teenager when Khandalyce was born, she was known as quiet girl – remembered at school as being “lovely” but given the nickname “Mouse.”

“It was just the look of her face, I guess, her small button-nose and couple of buck teeth,” a school friend told The Australian.

When Khandalyce was aged just two her mother left Alice Springs and travelled to Adelaide leaving behind her own mother – Khandalyce’s grandmother – cousins and her ex-boyfriend, Khandalyce ‘s father.

Records show that the little girl was immunised at the age of 18-months but after that nothing. She never attended school or daycare, she had no dental work that matched her, she never made it to the age of four to be immunised again.

Missing person’s report

The bodies were dumped 1100 ams apart.

At some stage the pair went to NSW, after being seen in Darwin, Adelaide and Canberra. At some stage the pair were violently murdered. At some stage the pair were separated – and police are now appealing to the public to piece together those details.

Karlie’s mother – who has since died  – filed a missing persons report for her daughter on September 4, 2009. Five days later, however, she withdrew the report after being reassured her daughter was safe and well but did not want contact from her family at the time.

There are now being questions raised about why she withdrew the report, Fairfax Media says that investigators are unsure whether it was Karlie or someone else who that made the call or message.

But something made them believe she was still alive  – for the next six years.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray of the Major Crime Investigation Branch said: “Contact with the family became less over time and on September 4, 2009, Ms Pearce-Stevenson’s mother raised a missing-person report with the Northern Territory Police,’’

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“It is understood that report was closed on September 10, 2009, after it was believed Ms Pearce-Stevenson was safe and well but did not want family contact. “

A Facebook page “Help find Karlie’ was setup in the years after Ms Pearce-Stevenson went missing, but it was taken down just a month ago.

Nine News reports that her cousin Samantha Harris posted a heartfelt plea to help find Karlie:

“To my beautiful cousin I know ur some w out the not a day goes by that I don’t think of u both I just want to know ur both safe xoxo (sic),” she wrote.

But she was not safe,  for at least five or six-years Karlie had lain dead.

Belangalo Forest

Years earlier serial killer Ivan Milat had used the forest as the ground to dispose of his slaughtered victims.

The remains of Karlie were found by trail bike riders in NSW’s Belanglo State Forest in August 2010 – along side her were the last of her belongings, a sock, an earring and size 10 Chain Reaction shirt reading Angelic that would have been sold in stores between 2003 and 2006.

Despite an extensive search of missing person’s databases she was never identified.

Police called her Angel, in reference to her T-Shirt and she remained one of the last two unsolved bodies found dumped in the notorious forest.

Police called her Angel, in reference to her T-Shirt.

Years earlier serial killer Ivan Milat had used the forest as the ground to dispose of his slaughtered victims.

After he was jailed in 2006 (the same year Khandalyce was born) his nephew then brutally and sickeningly murdered an acquaintance in the same forest.

It is not believed that Ivan Milat could have been responsible for Karlie’s murder as he was jailed and detectives also believe his nephew is “not a strong line of inquiry” in the killings.

The Australian reports that perhaps Karlie’s killer dumped her body there in order for it to appear as though her death could be related to the Milat murders.

The breakthrough

Police said a “significant development” in the investigation came through on October 8 when a call to Crime Stoppers, the 1267th call  “nominated Khandalyce as possibly being the little girl in the suitcase”.

“Investigators then located a witness who had seen Khandalyce and her mother at Marion Shopping Centre, Adelaide, in November 2008,” police said.

Khandalyce was wearing a pink dress in the photo.

“She had taken photos of Khandalyce wearing a pink dress.”

Nearly seven years later the person who took the photograph would see that dress again – on the news.

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The clothing found in the suitcase.

“The initial caller identified that Karlie and Khandalyce had been missing since about 2009, although at the time of the call there wasn’t a missing person report in existence,” South Australian police Detective Superintendent Des Bray said.

Khandalyce as a baby pictured with the quilt.

Four calls later, someone provided a photograph showing Khandalyce in a stroller with the quilt that was found in the suitcase with her bones.

The police released this image of the quilt.

It was this photograph that would help them be identified after DNA records linked the two bodies.

The pink dress, and the quilt now grubby and tattered were a part of a case of belongings found alongside remains of a little girl on the Karoonda Highway near Wynarka in SA’s Murray Mallee on July 14.

Where were they during before they were murdered?

“Those responsible for this crime are truly evil and remain among us in the community and must be held accountable for what they have done.’’

Police say that the mother and daughter duo went off the grid. There are reports they stayed with various friends in Darwin, Adelaide and Canberra, but after that there were no sightings.

Police want anyone with who operated businesses that the mother and daughter may have been seen at to trawl through their records.

NSW Police Homicide Commander, Detective Superintendent Mick Willing said:

‘We are appealing for assistance from the community to help us identify their friends and associates as they travelled throughout Australia, as well as landlords, motels, caravan parks or campsites where they stayed during this time.”

Police have ruled out any involvement from the family or father of Khandalyce. The father and relatives releasing this statement:

Police say they have a number of lines of enquiry they are pursuing but have not said they have a suspect in mind.

“It’s absolutely baffling,” Det Sup Willing said. “Here we have a young mum and a little girl who decide to leave the Northern Territory for whatever reason … and travel around Australia and then their remains are discovered years later.

“It’s a complete mystery to us.”

Detective Superintendent Des Bray added “Those responsible for this crime are truly evil and remain among us in the community and must be held accountable for what they have done.’’

Anyone with any information that may help is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. 

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