Her Name Was Lilie James and she's the 55th woman to be killed by violence this year.

Her name was Lilie James. 

On Wednesday night, her body was found. She was just 21.

James, a water polo coach, was found with serious head injuries at St Andrew's Cathedral School in Sydney's CBD after a welfare call was made around midnight. 

Read more: 'The sweetest person.' Lilie James' life was just beginning.

Police are treating her death as suspicious and spent Thursday searching for Paul Thijssen, 24, a hockey coach at the school. On Friday morning, a body was found in the search for Thijssen. 

In the wake of James' death, her family have released a statement saying they are heartbroken over the loss of their "beautiful" daughter. 

Watch: The scene of the crime, update from detectives. Post continues below. 

Video via Sky News.

"We are devastated and heartbroken by the loss of our beautiful Lilie James," the family said in a statement to NCA NewsWire.

"She was vibrant, outgoing and very much loved by her friends and family. We are tremendously grateful for the support of the community at this difficult time."


James was found in the toilet area of the gym at the Sydney school. A post-mortem is set to be conducted to determine the cause of death.

"From her injuries, it was apparent she was the victim of a homicide. The actual scene was quite confronting for the police that turned up," said Superintendent Martin Fileman.

Inquiries led police to set up a second crime scene in the Vaucluse/The Gap area.

Superintendent Fileman said investigating officers were searching for a man who was also employed by the school as a sports coach, who was later identified as Thijssen.

Thijssen and James were known to each other. 

Police sources said the pair had been in a five-week relationship, and The Daily Telegraph reported that James had called off the relationship just days ago.

Detectives reportedly used CCTV from the school to piece together their movements on Wednesday night. 

The Daily Telegraph reported that footage showed Thijssen following James into the gym bathroom, before leaving the area over an hour later.

Four hours later, Thijssen is believed to have rang police to inform them of a body on school grounds.

Police traced the triple-0 call to The Gap, and on Thursday detectives confirmed that items "associated with the actual homicide" were found at the second crime scene. 


Police and paramedics raced to the site just after 8am on Friday after a body was discovered in water off Vaucluse in Sydney's East, police sources confirmed to The Daily Telegraph. A new crime scene was declared. 

Police were speaking to construction workers in the area, and rescue jet skis scoured the water below.


Friends of James have described her as an "exceptional woman" who was a talented dancer, actor and swimmer.

"Lilie was the most kind, caring, funny and supportive friend there is," one friend wrote.

James graduated from Danebank Anglican School in 2020 and was in her second year of studying sports business at the University of Technology Sydney, while coaching sport part-time at St Andrew's Cathedral School. 

A GoFundMe set up on behalf of James' family says "our grief is everlasting".

James is the 55th woman to be allegedly killed by violence in Australia this year, according to The Red Heart Campaign.


Parents of students at St Andrew's Cathedral School received messages early on Thursday morning to alert them about "the critical incident", confirming no students have been involved.

"I repeat our earlier statement that no students were involved and there is no ongoing threat. An area of the school, not accessible to students, is a crime zone," the statement read.

Year 12 exams are continuing on Friday and next week, a short distance away from the crime scene. The school is closed to all other students except those sitting the exams. School counsellors have been called in to offer support for parents and students.

Investigations are continuing.

With AAP.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. 

If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature Image: AAP.