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Task Force Mallee

30 Jul 2015 10:37am

The following are media releases, photographs and press conferences relating to the discovery of a child's skeletal remains near the Karoonda Highway about 2kms west of Wynarka in the Murray Mallee region. The remains were located by a member of the public on 14 July 2015, with police advised early 15 July.

The child has been identified as Khandalyce Kiara Pearce, born in Alice Springs in 2006.

Anyone with information about the matter is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

These items are in chronological order - with the oldest items at the bottom of the page.

15 December 2015

Man charged with murder of child in suitcase

The NSW Homicide Squad's Strike Force Malaya and South Australia Major Crime's Task Force Mallee have been investigating the murders of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson and her daughter Khandalyce Kiara Pearce.

Karlie's body was located in the Belanglo State Forest in NSW in August 2010, while the body of two-year-old Khandalyce was found with a suitcase on the side of the road at Wynarka, in South Australia in July 2015.

In October this year, a 41-year-old man was arrested at Cessnock Police Station by NSW Police and charged with the murder of Karlie.

Earlier this morning detectives from the NSW Homicide Squad arrested the 41-year-old man at Parramatta Police Station.  He was subsequently charged with the murder of Khandalyce.

At this stage it is anticipated that the man will appear at Parramatta Local Court later this afternoon.

NSW Police will be alleging in court that it is their belief that Khandalyce was murdered in NSW.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray, the officer in charge of the SA Police Major Crime Investigation Branch, noted that has been a very intense investigation to this point and he thanked both the  public and the media for their assistance to date.

"South Australia Police will continue to work closely with homicide detectives in NSW to complete the investigation and prepare the brief of evidence."

"I would like to take this opportunity to ask anyone who has information about this case, and has not yet spoken to police, to please get in touch by calling Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. "

In total there have been 1606 reports to Crime Stoppers about the case since Khandalyce's body was found, with 339 of those since the little girl was identified.

27 October 2015

JOINT STATEMENT FROM SA AND NSW POLICE

Detective Superintendent Des Bray, Head of SA Police Major Crime Investigation Branch and Task Force Mallee

Detective Superintendent Mick Willing, NSW Police, SCC Homicide Squad Commander and head of Strike Force Malaya

"Police can reveal the bank account of murdered woman Karlie Pearce-Stevenson has been accessed hundreds of occasions since she was last seen in late 2008.

Detectives from SA Police's Task Force Mallee and the NSW Police's Strike Force Malaya, set up to investigate the murders of Khandalyce Pearce and her mother Karlie, have so far tracked transactions across South Australia, New South Wales, Northern Territory and the ACT.

Almost $100,000 was spent or withdrawn from the account since November 2008 until March 2012.  The account was closed earlier this year due to inactivity.

Money was deposited through Centrelink payments, previous wages and other unknown sources.

Also, disturbingly, it appears that in June 2010 a woman in a wheelchair impersonating Ms Pearce-Stevenson attended Australian Central Credit Union at Elizabeth to update banking records.

In December 2010 a woman claiming to be Ms Pearce-Stevenson also attended a compulsory interview with Centrelink at Salisbury.

Detectives are investigating if it was the same woman on both occasions.

However, police know that a man and at least two women have been responsible for the financial transactions and have lived at, or been associated with, homes in Davoren Park, Hillbank, Holden Hill and Charnwood, Canberra.

In addition to the unlawful bank account access, Ms Pearce-Stevenson's phone has also been used on a number of occasions since her disappearance.

Police believe those responsible for her murder retained the phone in order to dupe Ms Pearce-Stevenson's family members into believing she was still alive.

It's known that the phone's message bank was accessed by the offender/s and text messages sent to the murdered woman's mother, inducing her to send money to the bank account.

A woman impersonated Ms Pearce-Stevenson also had brief conversations with family members.

The exactly location and timing of the murders remains unclear.

We do know that a large number of the bank transactions occurred in the north and north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide, as well as in Canberra.

Police believe that at least one of those involved in the phone and bank scam was also responsible for the murders.

We will not hesitate to take action against anyone who has assisted those responsible for these horrific murders or who impede this investigation.

However, if you, or someone you know, has done the wrong thing, it is not too late to come forward and do the right thing now."

Please come forward immediately with information. Call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report via Crime Stoppers online www.sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

23 October 2015

JOINT STATEMENT FROM SA AND NSW POLICE

Detective Superintendent Des Bray, SA Police's Major Crime Investigation Branch and head of Task Force Mallee

Detective Superintendent Mick Willing, NSW Police, SCC Homicide Squad Commander and head of Strike Force Malaya

"Police have received overwhelming support from the community and media throughout Australia to assist in the search for those responsible for the murders of Khandalyce Pearce and her mother Karlie Pearce-Stevenson.

Today Detectives from SAPOL's Task Force Mallee and the NSW Strike Force Malaya thanked the public for the information that has come in so far in relation to this horrific crime and asked that it continue.

On Wednesday police announced they had identified the remains of a little girl found in a suitcase alongside Karoonda Highway near Wynarka in July this year as being Khandalyce, and as a result of that inquiry had also identified her mother, Karlie, whose remains found in Belanglo State Forest in New South Wales in August 2010.

This is now a multi-jurisdictional investigation, which spans at least two states and two territories over a time period of up to ten years.

Over the past two days, police have searched a number of homes in the ACT and in South Australia that are occupied by people connected with Karlie and Khandalyce.

Those searches have been very productive. We have also spoken with numerous people who have provided information.

We are continuing to work effectively and efficiently across jurisdictions in what is a fast-paced complex investigation.  As a result, many possibilities and theories are circulating and we are determine sort fact from fiction.

We are currently pursuing a very strong line of inquiry but we are keeping an open mind.    We are also speaking to people who we suspect have knowledge of what has occurred to this young mum and her little girl.

There is every indication that friends or associates – people Karlie may have met or been in contact with while travelling between 2006 and 2010 – hold the key to their deaths.

Police cautioned against speculation, as we do not want to jeopardise this investigation or undermine the tireless work being carried out by detectives.

Our focus is gathering evidence and building a solid case.

We want to charge those responsible and ensure a conviction for what can only be described as the brutal murder of a young mum and her little girl."

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence and you can remain anonymous.

22 October 2015 SAPOL - SA Police News

Update: Wynarka - Belanglo double murder investigation

SA and NSW Police would like to thank the community for the overwhelming support that has been received and continues to be received to assist the investigation into the deaths of Karlie and Khandalyce Pearce-Stevenson.

There has been 30 Crime Stoppers calls received in SA and dozen in other states.

Detectives from both jurisdictions are currently working together in Sydney, formulating and implementing investigation strategies across the country.

Since the identification of the victims, an enormous amount of information has been generated, which police are sifting through and evaluating.

Detectives reiterate the investigation into the deaths of Karlie and Khandalyce is in its infancy.

It is our intention to provide as much information, as soon as possible, to the community.

We continue to encourage the friends and associates of Karlie and Khandalyce to make contact with police through Crime Stoppers.

In addition, landlords and operators of hotels, motels, and caravan and cabin parks are urged to check their records in case Karlie stayed as their business.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence.

We remind people they should not report crime information via Facebook and Twitter pages

21 October 2015

Double murder breakthrough: Wynarka suitcase girl identified along with her mother

South Australia Police (SAPOL) have a name for the little girl whose remains were found in a suitcase alongside Karoonda Highway near Wynarka in July this year.

She is Khandalyce Kiara Pearce, born in Alice Springs in 2006.  Her identity was confirmed through DNA technology.

Khandalyce Pearce

In a double murder breakthrough, police have also determined that remains found in Belanglo State Forest in New South Wales in August 2010 are those of Khandalyce's mother - Karlie Jade Pearce-Stevenson.  The unidentified woman had been dubbed "Angel" by police and media as she was found with a t-shirt bearing an angelic motif.

A joint investigation has now been launched by SAPOL's Major Crime Branch and the NSW Homicide Squad, with assistance from police in the Northern Territory and ACT.

The circumstances and place of the murders is yet to be determined.

This significant development began on October 8 when a call to Crime Stoppers nominated Khandalyce as possibly being the little girl in the suitcase. The caller had not seen Khandalyce or Ms Pearce-Stevenson for some time and believed they were missing.

Major Crime Detectives obtained Khandalyce's records which showed she was immunised at 18 months.  There was no further record of her receiving medical treatment or being enrolled in school.

Investigators then located a witness who had seen Khandalyce and her mother at Marion Shopping Centre, Adelaide in November 2008. She had taken photos of Khandalyce wearing a pink dress.  That dress is identical to that found with the remains in the suitcase.

Police were also provided with photos of Khandalyce in a stroller with the handmade quilt that was also found in the suitcase.

Finally a blood sample from Khandalyce's medical records was analysed by Forensic Science South Australia and conclusively matched the DNA profile extracted from the skeletal remains in the suitcase.

Blood samples from Ms Pearce-Stevenson medical records were also used to develop a DNA profile.  This was sent to police in NSW who confirmed that they matched that of "Angel".

Karlie Pearce-Stevenson

The last known sighting of the pair was on Saturday, 8 November 2008 when Ms Pearce-Stevenson was driving on the Stuart Highway near Coober Pedy.

At that time Ms Pearce-Stevenson was 20 and Khandalyce was aged two.

SAPOL's head of Major Crime, Detective Superintendent Des Bray said family and friends of the victims have been informed and are devastated by the news.

"They are naturally grieving and it is important for us all to respect their privacy as they come to terms with this loss," Det Supt Bray said.

"Ms Pearce-Stevenson and Khandalyce are from a loving family.  Both were born in Alice Springs but we know that during 2008 they moved away from their family and started to travel.

"Contact with the family became less over time and on 4 September 2009 Ms Pearce-Stevenson's mother raised a Missing Person Report with the Northern Territory Police.

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

"This is one of the most shocking crimes imaginable and has torn apart and devastated a loving family.

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

"We are calling on every community across Australia to provide any information they have to Police that may help solve this crime.  If you know something, please contact police now."

Police are specifically looking for information from friends and associates of the victims since 2006. They also want to hear from landlords, motels and caravan parks where they could have stayed since that year.

"If you operate once of these businesses please check your records from 1 December 2008," Supt Bray said.

"It is with everyone's assistance we have reached this very important breakthrough, but it is important to note the identification is only the beginning of the investigation," Det Supt Bray said.

SAPOL and NSW Homicide Squad are working closely to complete the picture of Karlie's life, particularly since the birth of Khandalyce in 2006.

NSW Police Homicide Commander, Detective Superintendent Mick Willing explained there are now numerous lines of enquiry to follow.

"While we will do our best to keep the community informed, we need to first establish fact from fiction and ensure we avoid speculation, which could damage our investigations," Det Supt Willing said.

Det Supt Bray reiterated this message: "It is with community assistance that we have reached this very important breakthrough, but it is important to note the identification is only the beginning of the investigation."

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence and you can remain anonymous.

26 September 2015

Thousands of people spoken to during Wynarka inquiry

Thousands of people have been spoken to by SA Police as officers continue to investigate the discovery of a little girl's bones abandoned by the side of Karoonda Highway on 14 July.

Since the discarded remains were found - along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region – police have been working to identify the girl.

Her death has been declared a Major Crime and Task Force Mallee was established to investigate the matter. Despite the efforts of police, the identity of the child – who was aged between two-and-a-half and four when she died - remains a mystery.

In addition to making extensive inquiries, police have made several public appeals for information in connection with the case, prompting 1225 reports to Crime Stoppers to date.

In total 135 children who had been nominated as potentially being the little girl have been ruled out of the inquiry.

Also as part of the inquiry police have:

*             Conducted 429 door knocks

*             Delivered 574 posters to businesses across the Mallee area

*             Stopped and interviewed 377 motorists driving through the area

Detective Superintendent Des Bray, the officer in charge of the Major Crime Investigation Branch, thanked the public for its ongoing support as the inquiry continues.

"The number of calls to Crime Stoppers in relation this matter eclipses the total number of calls for all other murders in recent years," he said.

"We are doing everything we can at this time and appreciate the community support as we continue to follow all avenues."

Anyone who has any information that may assist the investigation is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

What police know about the girl:

* Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

* Likely Caucasian

* Had fair hair, 18cm long

* Was 90-95cm tall

* Was killed at another location

* Was killed some time between the start of 2007 and 12-18 months ago

* Most likely born in 2005 or 2006

24 August 2015

Mounted police to search Karoonda Hwy today

Mounted officers will today conduct a search along the Karoonda Highway between Wynarka and Tailem Bend as Task Force Mallee continues to investigate the discovery of a child's remains in the area in July.

Detective Inspector Greg Hutchins, from Major Crime Investigation Branch, said the searchers were looking for any evidence that may be relevant in the case.

He asked that motorists travelling along the Karoonda Highway this morning adjust their speed accordingly as they pass the search teams.

Searchers are looking for evidence which may relate to the discovery of the remains of a little girl, discarded along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt near the Karoonda Hwy, about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region, on 14 July.

Her death has been declared a Major Crime and Task Force Mallee established to investigate the matter. Despite the efforts of police, the identity of the little girl – who was aged between two-and-a-half and four when she died - remains a mystery.

The Mounted Operations Section are searching from a starting point about 15km out of Wynarka, with one team of four travelling towards Tailem Bend and one team of four travelling towards Wynarka.

A search map

Dtv Insp Hutchins said the horses were being used as they are able to cover the scrubby terrain more quickly than searchers on foot, and their height gave their riders a helpful vantage point.

Detectives, forensic experts and uniformed officers will be called in to examine any discoveries made along the way.

A forward command point has been established at Tailem Bend Oval this morning, and any members of the public who have information that might help can stop by.

To date there have been 999 reports made to Crime Stoppers and 85 children ruled out (who have been nominated as possibly being the little girl, but have conclusively been determined by police to not be her).

Anyone who has any information that may assist the investigation is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

Horse search

What police know about the girl:

* Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

* Likely Caucasian

* Had fair hair, 18 cm long

* Was 90-95 cm tall

* Was killed at another location

* Was killed some time between the start of 2007 and 12-18 months ago

*Most likely born in 2005 or 2006

23 August 2015

Jacket linked to Wynarka girl identified

They noticed the jacket for sale on an auction website and it was brought to the attention of investigators with Task Force Mallee, who contacted the would-be seller in New South Wales.

The Task Force, which comprises 20 police officers from a variety of specialist areas, was formed after the little girl was found, along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt, discarded near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region on 14 July.

Police, who have yet to identify the girl, spoke this week about steps being taken in the investigation in order to find the name of the girl and identify her killer.

Detective Inspector Greg Hutchins, from the Major Crime Investigation Branch, said the jacket's seller had graciously donated it to police and it would be closely examined in a bid to identify its manufacturer and where it was sold.

"This is another piece in that jigsaw puzzle," he said. "We are continuing to examine all the information in this case and each detail brings us a step closer to finding out who this lost little girl is and who took her life."

Anyone with information about the jacket, or that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

What police know about the girl:

* Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

* Likely Caucasian

* Had fair hair, 18 cm long

* Was 90-95 cm tall

* Was killed at another location

* Was killed some time between the start of 2007 and 12-18 months ago

*Most likely born in 2005 or 2006

The degraded jacket and identical item

20 August 2015

Data matching gives Wynarka investigators hundreds of names

South Australia Police have been working with a range of State and Commonwealth agencies in a bid to identify the little girl whose remains were found by the side of the Karoonda Highway in July.

Detective Inspector Greg Hutchins, from the Major Crime Investigation Branch, today said he had never seen another murder like it in his 37 years with the police.

"This truly is a little girl lost," he said. "She seems to be lost to society, lost to the system – forgotten by all and that is incredibly sad.

"At this time all we know is that a young girl has been murdered and dumped on the side of the road.

"She has never been reported missing and despite our best efforts she still has no name."

The little girl was found, along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt, discarded near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region on 14 July.  Her identity remains a mystery.

Investigators with Task Force Mallee have been consulting with a wide range of agencies as they match data in a bid to give the little girl a name – and potentially find her killer.

As a result of information received through that process they have the names of 256 children who could be the little girl.

Those names are in addition to the 83 children who police have already eliminated from the inquiry.

Also being cross referenced by detectives is information provided by the public via Crime Stoppers with 940 reports received to date.

"We do have other lines of inquiry at this time," Dtv Inspector Hutchins said.

"Forensic Science South Australia are working with the Australia Centre for Ancient DNA at Adelaide University as they continue to work towards obtaining a full DNA profile from the child.

"Plus our continued inquiries about the items found with the remains indicate the items all date from about 2007 and 2008 – which means she was most likely born in 2005 or 2006.

"However, we know that someone out there must know who this little girl is and we are appealing for them to get in touch with us.

"I would urge whoever is on the periphery of this crime to come forward and speak to police before investigators come knocking on their door."

Anyone with information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

What police know about the girl:

* Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

* Likely Caucasian

* Had fair hair, 18 cm long

* Was 90-95 cm tall

* Was killed at another location

* Was killed some time between the start of 2007 and up to 12-18 months ago

A poster relating to the murder can be downloaded here.

5 August 2015

Task Force Mallee investigators fan out from Wynarka

Task Force Mallee investigators continued their widespread canvass of the Wynarka area today in relation to the ongoing investigation into the murder of an unidentified little girl.

Officers from the Task Force, along with police from the Murray Mallee Local Service Area and State Tactical Response Group, yesterday began canvassing within a 25km radius of where the child's remains were found in July, seeking information from the community.

The little girl was found, along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt, discarded near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region.  Her identity remains a mystery.

As part of the door-knock, police are speaking with residents, businesses operators and employees, schools, doctors and anyone else connected with the local community.

"Today our officers fanned out from the township of Wynarka to visit farming properties within the search zone," said Detective Inspector Greg Hutchins, Major Crime Investigation Branch.

"There are many unknowns with this case.

"This is a horrific case centred on the murder of a young girl -someone must know something.

"A police forward command post has been established at the Karoonda Football Club and anyone with information is welcome to stop by and talk with police."

Posters and letters will be distributed throughout the wider community and across the Murray Mallee Local Service Area as part of the operation.

The posters feature the distinctive black tutu dress and quilt found with the remains.  Of note, only 28 of the Cotton On Kids dresses were sold within South Australia about eight years ago.  The quilt was handmade, but machine-stitched.

To date 643 reports have been made to Crime Stoppers in connection with the case, and 60 children eliminated as potential victims.

Police are also seeking further information about a man seen in the area with a dark suitcase on both 13 April and 26 May.

Seen by locals who did not recognise him, he is described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed.

Anyone with information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

What police know about the girl:

* Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

* Likely Caucasian

* Had fair hair, 18 cm long

* Was 90-95 cm tall

* Was killed at another location

* Was killed some time between the start of 2007 and 12-18 months ago

4 August 2015

Wide-spread canvass of Wynarka area begins

Task Force Mallee will today begin a large-scale canvass of the Wynarka area as the investigation into the discovery of a little girl's remains continues.

Officers from the Task Force, along with police from the Murray Mallee Local Service Area and State Tactical Response Group, will begin doorknocking in the area around where the discovery was made in July, seeking information from the community.

The little girl was found, along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt, discarded near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region.

"We believe that someone in this area will have vital information for investigators," Detective Superintendent Des Bray, the officer in charge of the Major Crime Investigation Branch, said.

"Someone loved this little girl. Someone other than her killer knows who she is and what happened to her.

"We are appealing to that person to come forward and talk to us."

Dtv-Supt Bray said police would be speaking with residents, businesses operators and employees, schools, doctors and anyone else connected with the local community.

Today he noted that a quilt and a little black dress - which were both found with the girl - may hold the key to identifying her.

"The reality is we haven't had anybody come forward that has had that exact quilt so we do think that quilt is still very distinctive and could hold the key to solving this," he said.

He also noted there were only 28 dresses sold by Cotton on Kids throughout South Australia about eight years ago and it was not sold over the internet or in markets "so again that dress may hold the key".

Black tutu style dress

"It's a very challenging investigation and I don't think that anyone would have thought that weeks later we would still be trying to identify the little girl.

"But every day we've been able to find out a little bit more than the day before and if every day continues like that then I'm happy.

Posters and letters will be distributed throughout the wider community as part of the operation.

"At this time we will be canvassing a 25km radius around where she was found, but we may extend that as the inquiry continues," he said.

"Police will be establishing a forward command post at the Karoonda Football Club today (4 August), and anyone with information is welcome to stop by and talk with police."

Data provided by the community will be cross referenced as Task Force Mallee investigators continue to follow leads in the inquiry into the girl's identity and death.

VIDEO: Update provided on Tuesday afternoon

At this time 610 reports have been made to Crime Stoppers in connection with the case, and 55 children eliminated as potential victims.

Police will also be seeking further information about a man seen in the area with a dark suitcase on both 13 April and 26 May.

Seen by locals who did not recognise him, he is described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed.

"Despite many inquiries about the man with the suitcase we have been unable to identify him," Det-Supt Bray said.

Anyone with information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

What police know about the girl:

* Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

* Likely Caucasian

* Had fair hair, 18cm long

* Was 90-95cm tall

* Was killed at another location

* Was killed some time since the start of 2007 and 12-18 months ago

Poster

31 July

Task Force Mallee expanded

An additional five police officers have been assigned to Task Force Mallee as SA Police continue to investigate the death of a little girl whose skeletal remains were found alongside the Karoonda Highway earlier this month.
The officer in charge of the Major Crime Investigation Branch, Detective Superintendent Des Bray said lines of inquiry are also being issued to detectives across the state on a daily basis.
He added that while forensic work is continuing, it has been confirmed that ... the remains are those of a girl.
She was found by police, along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt (pictured top right), near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region on 15 July.
Taskforce Mallee was established in the wake of the discovery with 15 police officers initially assigned to the investigation, along with a significant forensic response.
To date 550 reports have been made to Crime Stoppers in connection with the case, and 53 children have been eliminated by investigators as potential victims.
"The massive public response has generated many lines of inquiry in addition to opportunities being identified by investigators," Dtv-Supt Bray said.
"All of this information is assessed, prioritised and issued for investigation on a daily basis.
"The investigation is continuing at full speed while we await the results of forensic analysis."
He noted that despite receiving a very large number of calls in respect to the homemade, machine-sewn quilt, the information supplied has not resulted in Task Force Mallee identifying a potential victim at this stage.
Police are also still seeking to identify a man seen in the area with a dark suitcase on both 13 April and 26 May.
Seen by locals who did not recognise him, he is described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed.
"Despite many inquiries about the man with the suitcase we have been unable to identify him," Det-Supt Bray said.
Anyone with information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/
What police know about the girl:
* Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death
* Likely Caucasian
* Had fair hair, 18cm long
* Was 90-95cm tall
* Was killed at another location
* Was killed some time since the start of 2007

29 July 2015

Task Force Mallee rules out Madeleine McCann

Missing UK girl Madeleine McCann has been ruled out as the victim in the South Australia Police inquiry into a child's remains found at Wynarka earlier this month.

The officer in charge of the SA Police Major Crime Investigation Branch, Detective Superintendent Des Bray today said that 43 children had now been eliminated as potential victims.

"I can confirm that Madeleine McCann has been totally excluded as a potential victim and UK Police have been advised," he said. "Task Force Mallee has no further comment to make about this line of inquiry."

To date there have been 511 reports made to Crime Stoppers since the child's remains were found -  along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt - near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region on 15 July.

What police know about the child:

*             Believed to be a girl

*             Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

*             Likely Caucasian

*             Had fair hair, 18cm long

*             Was 90-95cm tall

*             Was killed at another location

*             Was killed some time since the start of 2007

Anyone who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au

27 July 2015

'Massive' public response regarding Wynarka child

More than 400 reports have been made to Crime Stoppers in connection with the discovery of a little girl's remains near the Karoonda Highway on 15 July.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray, the officer in charge the SA Police Major Crime Investigation Branch, said there had been a massive response from the public in relation to the murder inquiry – with a total of 410 reports made to Crime Stoppers, including 194 since Friday.

The child's remains were located along with a faded suitcase, items of clothing and a degraded quilt near the highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region.

Images of the distinctive 90cm x 90cm homemade quilt were released on Sunday following forensic examination, and today Task Force Mallee investigators released a further digital image with seven of the quilt's 25 octagonal patches now identified.

The image of the pumpkins and the 125mm-wide border fabric featuring music notes are exactly the same as those on the original quilt and the other images are a very close likeness, Det-Supt Bray said.

"We are extremely grateful for the level of community support we have received, and as a result of that support the investigation continues to progress each day," he said.

At this time 32 children have been excluded as potential victims.

"It is highly unlikely that the victim in Madeleine McCann," he added.

"At this time our inquiries will focus on where the evidence leads us in this investigation and at this point that primary focus remains within Australia."

What police know about the child:

*             Believed to be a girl

*             Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

*             Likely Caucasian

*             Had fair hair, 18cm long

*             Was 90-95cm tall

*             Was killed at another location

*             Was killed some time since the start of 2007

Anyone who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

Digital image of quilt

26 July 2015

Quilt may hold key to Wynarka child's identity

Photographs of a degraded quilt located, along with the remains of a child, at Wynarka earlier this month, have been released by Task Force Mallee investigators today.

Following close forensic examination, details of the 90cm x 90cm quilt have been released to the public in a bid to identify the child, who police believe was a young girl aged two-and-a-half to four at the time of her death.

Her skeletal remains were found along with a suitcase, items of clothing and the quilt near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region on 15 July.

The officer in charge of the Major Crime Investigation Branch, Detective Superintendent Des Bray, said on Friday that police believe the child could have died up to eight years ago and that she was killed at another location.

At some stage she was placed in the suitcase before it was left at the Wynarka location – sometime since mid-March.

Investigators believe the suitcase and its contents – including the child - were left at the location by an unknown person behind a bush and that at some stage someone tipped most of the contents out behind a nearby bush and left the suitcase near the roadside.

Among those items was the quilt, which appears to be homemade although it's been machine-stitched.

That fact, along with its filling of a light-coloured polyester material, could indicate that its maker intended it to be washed regularly, police believe.

Dtv Supt Bray also noted that much of the quilt is badly degraded, but the fabric which is still intact reveals a wide border of black material illustrated with musical notes along with images of a pumpkin patch, a camel and dragonflies.

"It has been suggested this is a so-called i-Spy quilt which is especially constructed to allow a parent to play i-Spy with the child using the images stitched into the blanket," he said.

"Someone loved that little girl and either made her, or gave her, that quilt. I would appeal for whoever loved her to get in touch with us."

He added that investigators with Task Force Mallee continue to follow lines of inquiry, with 273 calls made to Crime Stoppers to date.

As a result, police have eliminated 25 children from the investigation who have been nominated as potential victims, but have been determined to be alive.

Police are still appealing to a man seen in the area about six to eight weeks ago with a dark suitcase to come forward. They have confirmed sightings of him with a suitcase near Karoonda on both 13 April and 26 May.

Described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed, he was seen by a number of locals in the area and investigators are seeking to identify him and potentially exclude him from the inquiry.

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

What police know about the child:

*             Believed to be a girl

*             Aged 2.5-4 years at time of death

*             Likely Caucasian

*             Had fair hair, 18cm long

*             Was 90-95cm tall

*             Was killed at another location

*             Was killed some time since the start of 2007

Quilt found with bones near Wynarka

23 July 2015

Wynarka child believed to be a girl

SA Police have today announced they believe the skeletal human remains found near Wynarka last week are those of a girl aged two-and-a-half to four years.

At a press conference today, the officer in charge of the Major Crime Investigation Branch Detective Superintendent Des Bray, also announced that investigators believe the little girl could have died up to eight years ago – potentially making her aged 10-12 years if she was alive today.

"While the forensic analysis has not yet provided a conclusive result regarding this child's gender we are reasonably confident at this time that these are the remains of a girl who had fair hair and was 90-95cm tall," he said.

A manikin with hair of a similar colour and length, dressed in new versions of items of clothing found with the body was displayed to the media today as Task Force Mallee investigators continue their inquiries into the child's murder.

Police have received 223 call to Crime Stoppers  (ph 1800 333 000) in relation to the discovery of the remains, near the Karoonda Highway about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region, on Wednesday 15 July.

Clothing and a suitcase – a new version of which was also displayed by police today - were found along with the remains.

Investigators believe the suitcase and its contents – including the child - were left at the location by an unknown person behind a bush and that at some stage someone tipped most of the contents out behind a nearby bush and left the suitcase near the roadside.

While the suitcase now appears a grey colour, it was originally black and has faded.

Dtv-Supt Bray said the suitcase was first seen after road works were concluded in mid-March, but police are keen to hear from anyone who saw it, touched it or emptied its contents.

"We believe the child died elsewhere and was placed into the suitcase before being left at the Wynarka location," he said.

"For reasons I'm not going to disclose we are confident that this child was murdered and we would appeal for anyone with information that might assist us to make contact.

"This is a tragic case and we continue to follow a number of lines of inquiry in a bid to identify this child.

"At this time 24 children have been nominated as potential victims, but have been ruled out by investigators who have determined that they are alive and not requiring any further police attention."

Police are still appealing to a man seen in the area about six to eight weeks ago with a dark suitcase to come forward.

Described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed, he was seen by a number of locals in the area and investigators are seeking to identify him and potentially exclude him from the inquiry.

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

Mannequin and case

23 July 2015

Crime Stoppers receive 200 calls regarding Wynarka case

Forensic analysis of human remains found near Wynarka last week have not yet determined the child's gender, however Task Force Mallee investigators have ruled out 20 children as victims.

SA Police have now had 200 calls to Crime Stoppers (ph: 1800 333 000) in relation to the discovery of the remains of a child, about 2km west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region, on Wednesday 15 July.

Major Crime detectives have released images of clothing found along with the child's remains near the Karoonda Highway.

The clothing, including a purple Dora the Explorer T-shirt, blue pyjama shorts and a pair of pink track pants, were mostly found on the ground near a grey Lanza suitcase.

The suitcase and its contents – including the child - were left at the location by an unknown person behind a bush.

Police believe that at some stage someone tipped most of the contents out behind a nearby bush and left the suitcase near the roadside.

People driving along the road saw the suitcase over time, originally closed and later with the lid open. Some stopped and inspected it.

The suitcase was first discovered shortly after road works were completed in March this year.

"Identifying who emptied the suitcase contents behind the bush and when it was emptied is very important to investigators," said Detective Superintendent Des Bray, Officer in Charge, Major Crime Investigation Branch.

"The person who did this is not in any trouble and we encourage that person to come forward and contact us through Crime Stoppers or attend their local police station."

Det Supt Bray also noted that further sightings of a 60-year-old man with the suitcase around the same time have been reported to police.

Earlier police appeals have noted that a man was seen in the area carrying a dark suitcase, about 8am one morning about six to eight weeks ago.

Described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed, he was not a local.

"Identifying this man remains a priority so that he can be excluded if not involved," Det Supt Bray said.

"Police continue to encourage this man or anyone who knows him to come forward and make contact with us.

"Forensic Science SA have been working very hard to identify the gender of the child and to obtain a DNA profile.

Despite their best efforts they have not been able to achieve that result yet, however they continue to be committed to the task using alternative methods of analysis.

"In the interim we need to be patient and we are actively investigating other lines of inquiry that are enabling us to progress the investigation."

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online athttps://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

20 July 2015

Forensic analysis of remains continues

Forensic analysis of human remains found near Wynarka last week has not yet determined the gender of the child, however, police have been able to rule out potential victims.

"Forensic Science staff are working very hard to deliver a result as quickly as possible.  We are hoping to be able to confirm the gender of the child this week.  A DNA profile is also being taken of the child, however, that will take longer, " said Detective Superintendent Des Bray, Officer in Charge, Major Crime Investigation Branch.

Investigators have been assisted by 125 calls to Crime Stoppers since the bones were discovered.  Acting on information received from the public,  ten potential victims have been identified but detectives have been able to exclude them from the investigation.

Major Crime detectives have released images of clothing found along with the child's remains near the Karoonda Highway at Wynarka last week.

The clothing, including a purple Dora the Explorer T-shirt, blue pyjama shorts and a pair of pink track pants, were found in a grey Lanza suitcase about two kilometres west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region, on Wednesday 15 July.

"The response we have received from the public is encouraging and we urge anyone that recognises any of the clothes to please contact police.

"We believe the child aged between 2 and 5 years was murdered at another location but the motive and the exact time frame is unknown.

"We are also seeking any information about a man seen by several people walking along the Karoonda Highway, carrying a dark suitcase, about 8am one morning about six to eight weeks ago.  He is described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed.  He was not a local."

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

19 July 2015

Further images released of clothing found at Wynarka

Major Crime detectives trying to identify the body of a young child, have released further images of clothing found along with the child's remains near the Karoonda Highway at Wynarka last week.

The clothing, including a purple Dora the Explorer T-shirt, blue pyjama shorts and a pair of pink track-pants, were found in a suitcase about 2kms west of the Wynarka township in the Murray Mallee region, on Wednesday 15 July.

"From 5pm last night police have received nearly 100 calls from the public to Crime Stoppers, which is encouraging and we urge anyone that recognises any of the clothes to please contact police," said  Detective Superintendent Des Bray, the officer in charge of Major Crime Investigation Branch.
"Forensic Scientists are also working around the clock to help provide vital information to assist in the investigation."

"We believe the child aged between 2-5 years was murdered at another location but the motive and the exact time frame is unknown" Det-Supt Bray said.

"We are also seeking any information about a man seen by several people walking along the Karoonda Highway, carrying a dark suitcase, about 8am one morning about six to eight weeks ago.
He is described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed.  He was not a local." Detective Superintendent Bray Said.

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

Vision taken from the SAPOL Remote piloted aircraft (drone) which flew over the search area on Thursday 16 July, shows the terrain and Karoonda Highway, SES volunteers searching the area, and a large blue tent where the child's remains were found.

Wynarka child's clothing

Wynarka clothing  coat and pink pants

17 July 2015

Images released as police investigate child murder

Major Crime detectives trying to identify the body of young child today released images of clothing and a suitcase found along with the child's remains near the Karoonda Hwy this week.

The remains, clothing and case were found at Wynarka, about 150km east of Adelaide in the Murray Mallee region, on Wednesday.

Taskforce Mallee has been established with 15 police officers now working on the investigation, along with a significant forensic response.

A post mortem was conducted this morning – but the gender of the child still remains unknown .

Further forensic testing will be required before a gender is known early next week, while a DNA profile may take longer due to the complexities involved in the forensic analysis.

"Police emphasise that while it's possible that the victim is female, the presence of female clothes should not be taken as confirmation of that, or that the clothes belonged to the child," Detective Superintendent Des Bray, the officer in charge of Major Crime Investigation Branch, said today.

"We are hoping that someone recognises the clothes and then can help us identify the child."

Police are renewing their appeal for information that may lead to the identity of a man seen walking along the Karoonda Highway, carrying a dark suitcase, about 8am one morning about six to eight weeks ago.

He is described as being aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed. He was not a local.

Calls to Crime Stoppers have revealed the man was also seen on the highway walking with a suitcase west of Wynarka heading towards Murray Bridge.

Police are also calling on any drivers who may have dash-cam vision of the highway to contact police as they may have inadvertently recorded information in their trucks and cars that may assist with the investigation.

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

Suitcase and clothing

Clothing and case tag

17 July 2015

Detective seek information from public after bones found near Wynarka

Major Crime detectives want to speak to a man seen carrying a suitcase on the Karoonda Highway, near where the remains of a child were found earlier this week.

Late on Wednesday morning, police were contacted by a motorist who discovered human bones near a suitcase just off the highway, about 2 km west of Wynarka in the Murray Mallee region.

Detectives have door-knocked the Wynarka region and appealed to anyone with information to come forward.

Detectives believe the body and suitcase were dumped at the roadside location some time within the last ten weeks.

Police have received information that a man was seen walking along the highway, carrying a dark suitcase, about 8am one morning about six to eight weeks ago.  He is described as aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed.  He was not a local.

Major Crime detectives are awaiting the interim results of a post-mortem to provide more details about the identity, age and gender of the human remains found near Wynarka this week.

Police have established the bones are the skeletal remains of a child.  Initial examinations of the remains have determined they are those of a child aged between 2 and 7 years.  The gender is not known at this stage.

The remains were transported to Adelaide where a post-mortem was undertaken yesterday afternoon.  A more detailed examination of items found with the body will also be conducted.

As part of the investigation, detectives are checking National Missing Persons registers.  There are no current missing persons from South Australia that match this description.

Anyone who saw the man or has seen the suitcase by the highway, or who has any information that may assist the investigation, is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at https://sa.crimestoppers.com.au/

The investigation is ongoing.

16 July 2015

Wynarka investigation continues

Major Crime detectives have returned to the Karoonda Highway today following yesterday's discovery of human remains.

Late on Wednesday morning, police were contacted by a motorist who discovered human bones just off the highway, about 2 km west of Wynarka in the Murray Mallee region.

Police have established the bones are the skeletal remains of a child.  Initial examinations of the remains have determined they are those of a child aged between 2 and 7 years.  The gender is not known at this stage.

The remains have been transported to Adelaide where a post-mortem will be conducted this afternoon.

Forensic examination of the scene is being conducted.  SES volunteers are assisting with a search of the area along the highway today.  The police drone is also being utilised to search from overhead.

Detectives believe the body and suitcase were dumped at the roadside location some time in the last four to six weeks.

As part of the investigation, detectives are checking National Missing Persons registers.  There are no current missing persons from South Australia that match this description.

The investigation is ongoing.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray, Officer in Charge of Major Crime Investigation Branch, spoke with SA Police News yesterday to update the public on the situation and appeal for information.  Listen to his interview here.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

15 July 2015

Human bones found near Wynarka

Police including Major Crime Detectives are investigating the discovery of human bones near the Karoonda Highway about 2kms west of Wynarka in the Murray Mallee region.

Late this morning police were contacted by a member of the public after the bones were found just off the highway.

Police have established the bones are the skeletal remains of a child.

Forensic examination of the scene is currently being conducted.

The investigation is ongoing and further information will be provided as soon as possible.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

A sharp-eyed community member has identified a jacket identical to one found with the remains of a little girl near Wynarka last month.