A man accused of the murder of 12-year-old Quanne Diec in 1998 says his brother and his partner were killed in revenge for his actions, a court has heard.

Vincent Tarantino, 49, made the comments against the advice of his lawyer as he appeared briefly at Sydney's Central Local Court after being arrested yesterday over the disappearance and murder of the schoolgirl, news.com.au reported.

"I believe my brother ... and partner ... have been murdered in retaliation for what I've done," Tarantino told magistrate Les Mabbutt.

He did not apply for bail and will return to Parramatta Local Court on January 19 charged with murder, detaining for advantage and possession of a knife.


Meanwhile, detectives are searching a Granville home in Sydney's west for the missing girl's remains.

Investigators want to "bring Quanne home to her mum and dad and put her to rest", Superintendent Scott Whyte told reporters.

A house is being searched on Second St, Granville, just a few streets away from Quanne's home on Seventh St where her parents still live and metres away from the Australia Post sorting facility outside of which the schoolgirl was last seen.

Neighbours say the elderly man who occupies the house with his adult son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren had been there for more than 50 years and raised three sons at the modest home with his wife, who is believed to have died in the late 1990s.

Superintendent Whyte said Tarantino was not known to the family.

Tarantino has been "a person of interest in this investigation for 18 years", he added.

Quanne left her Granville home in Sydney's west on the morning of July 27, 1998, to go to school but never made it.

It's also believed the 12-year-old was alive a short time after she disappeared. He would not comment on whether the 49-year-old was stalking the schoolgirl.

Quanne never made it to Clyde train station on that July 1998 morning, and failed to turn up for class at Strathfield Girls High School.

Forensic officers enter the house in Second St, Granville. Photo / Supplied
Forensic officers enter the house in Second St, Granville. Photo / Supplied

Early on in the investigation, Quanne was feared to have been abducted but her disappearance was not reported to police for about 10 hours because the school believed she was probably at home sick.

Her Vietnamese family refused to give up hope for Quanne, with then premier Bob Carr offering a $200,000 reward for information leading to the location of the schoolgirl, who would now be 30.

The Diec family, who has searched for years for the schoolgirl, has been told of the man's arrest.

"They are very distressed. It is a time of mixed emotions," Supt Whyte told reporters yesterday.

Supt Whyte said police had never stopped investigating the disappearance of the girl.

"Police investigators ... never stop, never give up."

For the years following her disappearance, Quanne's family prayed that she was alive.

Her elderly father Sam had travelled around Australia in the hope of confirming reported sightings of his daughter. While sister Tina and brother Sunny both told media in 2000 they were praying for the return of their sister. Strike Force Lydney was established with police pursuing numerous avenues and following up reported sightings to no avail.

During the investigation Detective Inspector Brad Cox said police had hypnotised witnesses, set up mannequins and drained and searched a nearby waterway, Duck Creek, but failed to come up with answers.

Police were unable to confirm whether Quanne was the girl seen talking to the male driver of a white van near the intersection of Third and Factory streets in Granville on the day of her disappearance.

The girl was reportedly seen getting into the van, which then drove away.

Quanne's name resurfaced in the media last year after the remains of a young girl were found inside a suitcase beside a road in South Australia, but they turned out to belong to Khandalyce. who police allege was murdered along with her mother Karlie at the hand of Daniel Holdom.