For the first time since finding her daughter dead in their Wangaratta home in October 2015, the mother of murdered schoolgirl Zoe Buttigieg has spoken publicly.
“I will never ever forget that image, that image is stuck in my head forever,” Janelle Saunders told Nine News about the moment she found Zoe’s lifeless body under the bed sheets in the 11-year-old girl’s bedroom.
“She was very pale, her lips were blue.”
Saunders had not yet seen the worst of it.
“The worst was pulling the rest of the doona down and she had no clothes on, and I just remember screaming ‘where are her pants, why doesn’t she have any clothes on’,” Saunders said.
“I thought ‘this can’t be happening’.”
Watch Janelle Sanders speak about finding her daughter in the video below.
The night before the horrific discovery, on October 24, 2015, Saunders invited a small friends to her home for a dinner party.
Mid-way through the night, one of the guests, Bowe Maddigan, then aged 30, disappeared.
“We looked everywhere [for him],” Saunders said. “We looked outside, we looked out the back, checked all the rooms, every room but hers. And that decision haunts me every day because if I’d opened that door, she’d still be here.”
Nine News released never-before-seen footage of Maddigan speaking to police shortly after Zoe’s murder, on October 28, and admitting to the murder.