After a desperate five-day search, police yesterday confirmed their worst fears for missing 9-year-old Australian girl Charlise Mutten.
The body of a child had been discovered in a barrel in bushland northwest of Sydney, and the girl's stepfather was charged with murder shortly after.
Major questions still hang over the case, with police so far unable to interview the girl's mother, Kallista Mutten, who remains under medical supervision and who police claim has been "difficult to approach".
"At this stage we have no evidence to support anything else than the accused acted alone, however it's still early days in the investigation," NSW Police Deputy Commissioner David Hudson told reporters on Wednesday.
"We don't have a motive at this stage. What we have is human remains. We believe it's the missing 9-year-old girl and we have an individual we [will allege] is responsible for that murder."
Here's how the tragedy unfolded.
Tuesday, January 11
Nine-year-old girl Charlise Mutten is allegedly killed by stepdad Justin Stein, 31, some time between 7pm on Tuesday and 10am on Wednesday, according to court documents.
Charlise usually lives with her grandmother in Coolangatta, Queensland, but is spending two weeks during school holidays with her mother Kallista Mutten, 31, and her fiance at a property in the Blue Mountains, northwest of Sydney.
According to The Daily Telegraph, detectives will allege Mutten had left Charlise in the care of Stein on Tuesday night.
Thursday, January 13
Police are later told Charlise was last seen on Thursday on the veranda of the Mount Wilson property.
The 12.5-acre Wildenstein estate, a popular wedding venue, is owned by Stein's wealthy family and is listed as his home address.
Stein allegedly has phone conversations with Mutten discussing purchasing a number of 20kg sandbags from a hardware store, "to fuel a boat and then try and float that boat on the water at one of the one of the docks in inner Sydney".
Police will allege Stein purchases five 20kg bags of sand from Bunnings.
They claim he then drives around Sydney for up to five hours with Charlise's body while he tries to work out where to dump her.
Stein allegedly then visits a number of locations including a BP service station, a Five Dock boat ramp and a Windsor boat ramp.
Police allege after unsuccessfully attempting to launch the boat, which is inoperable, from an inner-Sydney dock, he ends up hiding the heavy barrel containing Charlise's body in dense bushland after struggling to dump it in the Colo River.
Friday, January 14
Charlise is reported missing at 8.20am on Friday.
A massive air and ground search begins to find her, as more than 100 police, State Emergency Service (SES) and Rural Fire Service (RFS) personnel scour dense bushland around the property.
Neighbours report seeing a car leaving the property without headlights about 4.30am Friday.
Charlise's mother collapses and is taken to hospital.
Stein speaks with police at Penrith.
Police seize Stein's red Holden Colorado ute outside the police station for forensic testing.
Saturday, January 15
Homicide detectives take over the search and the property is declared a crime scene.
Strike Force Buena is established by Blue Mountains Police Area Command and assisted by the State Crime Command's Homicide Squad to investigate the girl's disappearance.
Senior investigators say they won't rule anything out.
Police divers seize a boat in the Hawkesbury River and test it for fingerprints. The boat is kept for forensic testing.
The search continues in the dense bushland around the property.
Sunday, January 16
RFS volunteers report finding "very small and barefooted" footprints on a fire trail.
NSW Police say "certain items have been found and identified … but unfortunately [they] haven't led to anything that gives us a definite indication of her location".
Investigators scour the Hawkesbury River.
Monday, January 17
A large number of police and detectives enter the Blue Mountains property.
Media are told to leave.
Reports at the time indicated police intended to interview Charlise's mother, but it is understood this did not occur.
Tuesday, January 18
Officers attached to Strike Force Buena conduct a search near the Colo River.
The body of a child is located in a barrel.
At about 8.30pm, Stein is arrested at a unit in Riley Street, Surry Hills.
He is taken to Surry Hills Police Station and charged with murder.
Wednesday, January 19
Stein appears in Central Local Court on Wednesday charged with murder, wearing a grey jumper and blue face mask.
His lawyer says his client has longstanding mental health issues that requires high dosages of medications.
He requests Stein be placed in protective custody amid concerns for his safety. The magistrate says that request must be made with Corrective Services.
Stein is remanded in custody to next appear in court March 18.
Police reveal that the search for the girl took place as homicide detectives pursued a number of leads, particularly using CCTV, GPS data and phone records to track Stein's movements.
They say they were tipped off by "inconsistencies" in the version of events he gave to police.
Post-mortem examination to determine the cause and "purpose" of Charlise's death is expected to take roughly a week, police say.
Mutten is still under medical supervision and yet to be interviewed by police.
Charlise's biological father, Scott Hensby, posts an emotional tribute to his daughter on Facebook.
"Goodbye you beautiful little girl," he writes. "I love you so much. I miss you every day."