Police investigating the murder of a young mother and daughter, whose bodies were found in separate states five years apart, believe the killer may have impersonated the mother for a number of years following her death to steal money and convince her family she was still alive.
Karlie Pearce-Stevenson, then aged 20, was last seen with her two-year-old daughter in November 2008, on the Stuart Highway near Coober Pedy. Her body was found two years later in Belanglo State Forest in New South Wales. The remains of her daughter, Khandalyce, were found 1100km away in a suitcase by the side of the road on the outskirts of Wynarka, South Australia, in July.
Police used DNA testing to match the pair, revealing their horrific discovery last Wednesday.
Today, the shocking double murder took a new twist with detectives from the NSW and South Australian investigating task forces revealing Karlie Pearce-Stevenson’s bank account was accessed on more than 1200 occasions between November 2008 until March 2012 from locations in South Australia, Northern Territory and the ACT. The account was closed earlier this year.
The transactions range from ATM cash withdrawals to fast food from McDonalds and KFC, and petrol stations purchases and show whoever was using the card moved around extensively and sometimes rapidly.
More than $90,000 was taken and SA police detective superintendent Des Bray said whoever was responsible had stolen Pearce-Stevenson’s identity, bank accounts, telephone and even impersonated her to family, the bank and Centrelink authorities.
“We need to determine if the people involved in the frauds are involved in the murder and it is most likely that one or more may be involved in some way,” DS Bray said.
Police believe Karlie and Khandalyce were killed at different times in different locations and the phone was retained by the offenders to send text messages as “proof of life” to Pearce-Stevenson’s family to deceive them into believing she was still alive.
A woman impersonated Karlie to induce the murdered woman’s mother, Colleen Povey, to send money to the bank account. Her mother died in 2012 believing they were still alive.
A woman also went to compulsory interview at a Centrelink office in Adelaide on December 15, 2010, posing as Pearce-Stevenson.
Six months earlier in June 2010, a woman in a wheelchair impersonating her went to the Australian Central Credit Union in the Adelaide suburb of Elizabeth to update banking records.
Detectives are investigating if it was the same woman on both occasions.
At least one suspect was male and at least two females were involved. They have been linked to homes in three northern Adelaide suburbs as well as a property in Canberra.
The last confirmed sighting of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson before her death was in Canberra.
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