Search for key piece of evidence as mourners gather for Charlise Mutten

·News Editor
·3-min read

A vigil has been planned for schoolgirl Charlise Mutten, as police continue their search for a murder weapon in the NSW Blue Mountains.

On Tuesday, police revealed the nine-year-old’s cause of death, and released CCTV footage showing a now-seized ute towing a boat to various boat ramps around Sydney.

“We can now disclose that the cause of death for Charlise was that she suffered a fatal gunshot wound,” Homicide Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty told reporters.

According to court documents, Charlise was killed days before she was reported missing.

People attend a candlelight vigil for nine-year-old Charlise Mutten, whose body was found in a barrel after she went missing in the Blue Mountains.
People attend a candlelight vigil for Charlise at the front gates of Tweed Heads Public School on January 19. Source: AAP

Police believe she was shot dead before her body was dumped in a barrel near the Colo River.

Justin Laurens Stein, 31, faced court last week charged with murder after being arrested at a Surry Hills unit.

“We’re still searching the building and surroundings at Mount Wilson, obviously now looking for a firearm,” Supt Doherty said, adding police divers and the dog unit were assisting with the search.

Memorial to be held for ‘sweet, innocent’ girl

Charlise’s cousin, Mellese Hensby, is holding a vigil on Wednesday evening in Ballina in honour of the “beautiful” girl whose “life was taken too soon”.

Speaking with Sunrise, Ms Hensby said the support from the community was “incredible”.

“It’s amazing to see that people do care,” she said.

“I just want her to know that she is loved. It just feels like there’s not very many positives, so I want to hold this (vigil) for her.

Charlie Mutten wears her blue school uniform and sits cross legged on the ground.
The vigil in honour of Charlise will be held on Wednesday night in Ballina. Source: Facebook

“She was a very cute little girl. She was very happy all the time," she said, describing her younger cousin as "very innocent, sweet and smart".

The teddy bear’s picnic-themed memorial will be held at 6.30pm on Wednesday, January 26, at Ballina RSL Memorial Park.

Chilling CCTV captures item disappearing from ute tray

After Charlise was reported missing on January 14, police seized a red Holden ute and a boat.

On Tuesday, authorities released CCTV showing a red ute travelling from Sydney’s west towards the city.

The vehicle is towing a boat, and a tall object under a blue tarp can be seen in the back of the ute.

“What I can also say is at some stage after leaving the Colo River, that item wasn’t on the ute when it stopped at another service station at Bells Line of Road at Kurmond. So that’s highly suspicious that that item wasn’t there,” Sept Doherty said.

He said Charlise's death was "hard to talk about and hard to think about" but the information needs to be reported "to get the truth".

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