Mother charged with murder of baby girl allegedly told neighbours she was 'taken as a sacrifice'

A mother charged with the murder of her baby daughter, allegedly told neighbours she belonged to a witch cult and the child was ‘taken as a sacrifice’.

It’s been 15 years since baby Leonie Astra Hutchinson vanished in 2001 from a Hunter Valley home.

On Wednesday, 43-year-old Kate Elizabeth Hutchinson was arrested at her Evans Head home.

Police believe little Leonie was just 16 months old when she disappeared from her home in Scone in January 2001, but wasn't reported missing until years later in 2004.
Police believe little Leonie was just 16 months old when she disappeared from her home in Scone in January 2001, but wasn't reported missing until years later in 2004.

Police say little Leonie’s future was snatched away by her own mother known as ‘Rainbow’.

Family photos show the little girl, who would be 16 today, was a little ballerina who enjoyed smiling for the camera.

A neighbour, known only as Doug, said Ms Hutchinson claimed she belonged to a witch cult.

“She reckoned her baby, her child was taken as a sacrifice,” he told 7 News.

In 2004 Ms Hutchinson told police and 7 News a different story.

Kate Hutchinson in 2004. Photo: 7 News
Kate Hutchinson in 2004. Photo: 7 News

She claimed her daughter was living with friends, but she never said where.

"Well she's alive and well and she's growing up wonderfully I'm very proud of her," Rainbow said in 2004, three years after Leonie’s disappearance.
"She's safe where she is, they're wealthy they can afford to protect her."

In 2013, an inquest heard her mother told a colleague the child was 'going away' to stay with friends.

Glebe Coroners Court also heard the toddler's mother, Kate Hutchinson, was involved in witchcraft.

Ms Hutchinson had previously spoken of a "wolfman" who appeared to her and was going to lead her to aliens, according to friend Jessie Ryan.

There is no single record of Leonie's existence, no school records, no Medicare records and the last time she was immunised was back in October 2001.

It was in the New South Wales town of Scone where Leonie was last seen, in the arms of her mum, picking up clothes from the local Op Shop. That was back in December 2001.

Rainbow has given the same frustrating response to police since January 2004 when the alarm was first raised.

For grandmother Helen Hutchinson its been an agonising wait - not knowing what's happened to Leonie and if her daughter, Rainbow, was involved.

"I believed Leonie was safe with her mother being monitored by many different organisations and that is what I had been told. So I had no worries up to that point about it," Helen said after it was realised Leonie was missing.

"It was a shock to learn that she was missing and it was a shock too that people thought she was with me."

Today detectives said they had reason to believe Leonie had died and Kate Hutchinson was charged with murder.

She didn’t apply for bail.

On Wednesday her boyfriend told media he was standing by his partner.

“I love Rainbow that’s it,” he told 7 News.

Police will now focus on finding Leonie’s remains.

For over a decade, mystery has continued to surround the disappearance of Leonie.

It has been 15 years since she was last seen and detectives hope the arrest will refresh someone’s memory.

Strike Force Kanuna was formed to investigate Leonie's disappearance and there has also been a coronial inquest into her whereabouts.

Detective inspector Tim Seymour has led the investigation and he said he never gave up on Leonie’s case.

He maintains he won’t until he finds out what happened to her.

News break – March 16