Charlise Mutten murder: Stepdad Justin Stein charged after cops found barrel with human remains
Video footage and GPS data helped lead police to find the body of a missing nine-year-old girl in a barrel in NSW’s Blue Mountains.
Charlise Mutten was reported missing from Mt Wilson at 8.20am on Friday, but reportedly had not been seen since Thursday afternoon.
Her disappearance sparked a massive five-day search of dense bushland, with more than 100 emergency personnel joining the operation.
Police searched near the Colo River on Tuesday, about an hour’s drive from where the girl went missing and found a child’s body in a barrel.
Her 31-year-old stepdad Justin Stein was arrested in Surry Hills on Tuesday night.
Acting Commissioner Karen Webb said the search for the girl took place as homicide detectives pursued a number of leads, particularly using CCTV and GPS data.
“A number of other searches took place on the basis of those locations,” she said on Wednesday.
“Last night, police found a barrel ... and that barrel contains human remains that are consistent with the missing nine year old.”
Acting Commissioner Webb said the investigation will be ongoing.
“There’s still many, many elements of each investigation that we have to work through to determine exactly what happened from the time the young girl was reported missing up until last night when those remains were found.”
Deputy Commissioner David Hudson said investigations led police to a location of suspicion, where the barrel was discovered.
While still uncertain of exactly what happened, police were “certain” Stein allegedly placed her body in the barrel and then disposed of it where she was found, he said.
Deputy Commissioner Hudson said police pounced after allegedly finding “inconsistencies” in versions of events provided by Stein.
He revealed the accused murderer held phone conversations with the child’s mother on Thursday, days before her body was found.
“(There were) a number of telephone conversations with the girl’s mother, to purchase a number of sandbags - 20 kilo sandbags from the hardware store - to fuel a boat and then try and float that boat on the water at one of the one of the docks in inner Sydney,” he said.
That was unsuccessful and police tracked his movements back to the location where the search took place on Tuesday afternoon.
“Once the remains had been found last night, very shortly afterwards, the accused was arrested in Surry Hills,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Hudson said the investigation was still in “early stages”.
The barrel will be forensically examined further, with the matter now before the coroner.
“We‘re awaiting the outcome of a post mortem. Once we have that report, we will obviously be determining further investigative strategies,” he said.
“Things will unravel over the next week or so to find a cause of death, the purpose for her death and try and identify exactly what happened so that remaining family can have some comfort in that.”
Charlise, who is originally from Queensland, was holidaying with family at property at Mt Wilson when she disappeared.
The girl’s mother is under medical supervision and police hope to talk to her at a later stage.
“We would certainly desire to interview the mother when she‘s well enough to do so,” Deputy Commissioner Hudson said.
“The homicide squad will leave no stone unturned in search of the truth of this matter and we have some very capable individuals working on this job.”
Stein was charged with murder and refused bail.
He briefly appeared at Central Local Court on Wednesday via video link from the Surry Hills police station cells, where his lawyer requested he be protected in custody as he was worried about his safety.
Court documents revealed Charlise was killed between 7 pm, Tuesday January 11 and 10 am, January 12, but police were not made aware of her disappearance until days later.
Wearing the grey jumper Stein was arrested in overnight and a blue surgical mask, the Mount Wilson man sat silent as his matter was mentioned.
No bail application was made and he was remanded for a further court hearing in Penrith on March 18.
NED-5347 Body in Barrel Map
* Nine year-old girl Charlise Mutten goes missing from a property at Mt Wilson in the NSW Blue Mountains
* She was holidaying with family but is originally from Queensland
* Charlise was reported missing to police at 8.20am on Friday, but reportedly not seen since Thursday afternoon
* A massive ground and air search begins to find her
* More than 100 emergency personnel scour dense bush at the property where she was last seen
* Reports surface of footprints on a trail near the property, with one set of footprints ‘very small’
* Neighbours report seeing a car leaving the property without headlights about 4.30am Friday
* On Saturday, senior investigators said they won’t rule anything out
* The property is declared a crime scene with a red ute and boat seized for further examination at the weekend
* Investigators scour the Hawkesbury River on Sunday
* Stepdad Justin Stein, 31, arrested on Tuesday night
* He appeared at Central Local Court on Wednesday charged with murder
* Court documents reveal Charlise was allegedly killed three days before she went missing
* Stein was remanded in custody to next appear in court March 18
Originally published as Charlise Mutten murder: Stepdad Justin Stein charged after cops found barrel with human remains
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