Teen girl's murder charge after 10yo cousin found dead
GRAPHIC WARNING: A woman returned to her NSW farmhouse yesterday to find her 10-year-old niece with her throat slit and what appeared to be carvings in her body while her own 14-year-old daughter was missing.
She rang triple-0 immediately at 7am but the young girl, who was staying at the farm in Gunnedah for the school holidays, was dead when paramedics arrived.
A frantic search by police found the woman's 14-year-old daughter at a neighbouring property at about 8.30am and it is alleged she told officers she had cut the throat of her cousin as well as knifed her repeatedly.
Wounds on her body appeared to be an attempt to carve words but police will not release any details of her injuries except to say they were substantial.
An autopsy will be carried out in the next few days.
The 14-year-old was taken to Gunnedah police station where she spent most of Wednesday with medical experts and local detectives. She was charged with murder late Wednesday night and refused bail to appear before a children's court Thursday.
The teenager's mother told police she left the home at 6.30am with another child to do some brief farming duties and returned about 30 minutes later.
The two girls were still sleeping when she left.
When she returned and entered the bedroom she discovered the 10-year-old bleeding profusely from multiple wounds and her daughter gone.
The 10-year-old had only arrived recently, to be with her cousins, from where she lived with her parents in Orange about 350km away.
Forensic police spent all day yesterday at the Gunnedah property collecting evidence and trying to piece together what happened. They are expected to be there over the coming days.
The family are well respected and considered successful. They bought the property more than a decade ago.
Police spent yesterday tracking down the 10-year-old girl's parents in Orange who were last night believed to be travelling to Gunnedah.
Detectives said they would not elaborate on the girl's injuries or whether a weapon had been seized as the investigation was ongoing.
Senior police said it is one of the worst murders in recent memory involving young people.
NSW Homicide Squad is assisting with the investigation but it is being led by local detectives.
The Mayor of Gunnedah, Jamie Chaffey, said the tight-knit country town will be "devastated" as the horrific news spreads.
The town has a population of about 10,000 people.
"On behalf of the community we're devastated by the loss of any young person. Our thoughts and heartfelt condolences go out to the family dealing with this situation at this time," he said.
Mr Chaffey spoke to The Daily Telegraph, audibly upset and almost in disbelief.
"I can only imagine the pain of the family and the other members of the community who may know people involved in this," he said.
He said that Gunnedah was a close community that was very supportive but the confronting loss came on the back of "so much hardship already".
"After the drought, COVID, it's been so hard and the loss of any member of the community is devastating - but for it to be a young person - it's particularly devastating," he said. "It's floored me."
He implored locals to reach out to Lifeline, council and each other if they, or someone they knew, was struggling to process the grief.
Residents who live near the property said they had seen emergency vehicles there all day. "It's just sad, very sad," one said.
Criminal psychologist Tim Watson-Munro told The Daily Telegraph "horrific" examples of girls killing girls are very uncommon but not unheard of.
Without commenting on the current case, Watson-Munro said in general a teen girl, attacking a member of her own family, would likely have an extensive history of complex and escalating feelings that could include jealousy, anger and family tension.
He said psychosis at that age was particularly uncommon, saying it was more likely "bad rather than mad".
The trauma will now reverberate through the entire community, he said, from the family to the police who stumbled across the confronting scene in the farmhouse.
"Everyone knows someone who knew them," he said.
"This will be seen as something that happens in cities, not in 'our town' and it will be an immense challenge to comprehend."