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DNA link identifies Wynarka suitcase girl

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A child whose remains were recently found in a suitcase on the side of the Karoonda Highway is the daughter of a woman whose skeletal remains were found in New South Wales’ Belanglo State Forest in 2010.

DNA tests have genetically linked the pair – the child Khandalyce and the mother Karlie Jade – police in Adelaide told reporters today.

Police say she is Khandalyce Kiara Pearce, born in Alice Springs in 2006.

In July, a driver found a suitcase dumped on the side of the Karoonda Highway near Wynarka in the state’s southeast, which sparked an intensive investigation.

SA Police said a caller to CrimeStoppers was the “crucial breakthrough”.

The initial caller identified that the mother and daughter had been missing since about 2009, South Australia Police Head of Major Crime, Detective Superintendent Des Bray told reporters.

The caller had not seen Khandalyce or Ms Pearce-Stevenson for some time and believed they were missing.

According to SA police, major crime detectives obtained Khandalyce’s records, which showed she was immunised at 18 months.

There was no further record of her receiving medical treatment or being enrolled in school.

Investigators then located a witness who had seen Khandalyce and her mother at Marion Shopping Centre, Adelaide in November 2008.

She had taken photos of Khandalyce wearing a pink dress.  That dress is identical to that found with the remains in the suitcase.

Police were also provided with photos of Khandalyce in a stroller with the handmade quilt that was also found in the suitcase.

Finally, a blood sample from Khandalyce’s medical records was analysed by Forensic Science South Australia and conclusively matched the DNA profile extracted from the skeletal remains in the suitcase.

The families of Karlie Jade Pearce-Stevenson and Khandalyce Kiara Pearce issues a statement this afternoon, saying they were “grateful to the police, the community and media and everyone who has assisted or provided information in this investigation”. 

“As you would expect our family is devastated by this news of the deaths of Karlie and Khandalyce and we are trying to deal with the grief,” the statement says.

“We understand that this case has created considerable interest across the country but at this time we ask that you respect our privacy to allow us to grieve.

“Thank you.”

– with AAP.

MORE TO COME…

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