The 31-year-old stepfather of nine-year-old girl Charlise Mutten has been arrested and charged after the child was found dead inside a barrel in Australia.
Justin Stein allegedly killed his stepdaughter and dumped her body in the barrel near the Colo river, police said, adding the investigation into the death was ongoing.
Mr Stein was arrested on Tuesday night at Riley Street in central Sydney’s Surry Hills area and taken to the local police station, officials said.
Mr Stein appeared before Sydney’s Central Local Court on Wednesday morning but was refused bail, according to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
Charlise was staying at Mr Stein’s family home in the Blue Mountains just before she was reported missing last week.
She was last seen on 13 January, her mother Kallista Mutten had told the police.
Mr Stein allegedly killed his stepdaughter and tried to take the girl’s body out in a boat and dispose of it, according to the police.
He had also purchased several sandbags from a hardware store on 13 January afternoon.
Mr Stein, however, was unable to start the vessel. He then went from the dock to the Colo river, where the girl’s remains were found inside the barrel, according to the police.
“Those movements included... to fuel a boat and then to try and float that on one of the docks on Sydney Harbour... then tracking that individual back to the location [where the body was found],” deputy commissioner Dave Hudson said.
Mr Hudson said the police used a combination of CCTV footage and GPS tracking to follow Mr Stein’s movements.
Meanwhile, Charlise’s biological father wrote an emotional tribute to his daughter on Facebook.
“Goodbye you beautiful little girl. I love you so much. I miss you every day! You have captured the hearts of the nation and the world, and now those hearts are breaking, with mine,” wrote Scott Hensby.
“This doesn’t happen! Kids need to be safe. What is wrong with you people???? We will get the answers for you baby, and we will honour you properly. This is not the end of you or your story Charlise,” he added.
Charlise’s mother had suffered a medical episode after her disappearance last week and was admitted to hospital, reported ABC News.
Police said they will speak with her as well.
On Wednesday morning, the court was told Mr Stein had suffered from “long term” mental health problems.
His lawyer told the court that Mr Stein should be held in solitary confinement in prison because he feared for his safety.
The magistrate, however, refused to make the order, saying this was up to the correctional services.
Mr Stein will return to court in March.
A candlelight vigil will be held outside Charlise’s school today evening, reports said.
The Sydney Morning Herald had earlier reported that identifying child victims of crimes was prohibited under state law without permission from their next of kin.
However, Charlise’s family had given the media permission to identify the child.
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