Jessica Camilleri, 25, was charged with murder after allegedly beheading her mum Rita Camilleri, 57, on Saturday night
A little boy who allegedly witnessed his aunt decapitate his grandmother may have only recently started spending time in the home without his parents.
Jessica Camilleri, 25, was charged with murdering her 57-year-old mother Rita Camilleri after she allegedly stabbed her to death and tossed her head into a neighbour’s lawn on Saturday.
Ms Camilleri’s body was found in the kitchen of their house in St Clair, western Sydney, around 11.40pm.
Her head was found a short distance away, after Jessica allegedly carried it down the street and left it on a neighbour’s front lawn.
First responders described the scene as one of the most gruesome they had ever seen.
Ms Camilleri was babysitting her other daughter’s four-year-old son at the time of her death.
Jessica’s only sister had previously expressed concerns about her mental health conditions, but entrusted her mother to care for the little boy on the night of the attack.
The main concern centered around the fact that Ms Camilleri was Jessica’s primary carer as well.
Ms Camilleri (pictured) was babysitting her other daughter’s four-year-old son at the time of her death
Pictured: The kitchen where Ms Camilleri’s dismembered and bloodied body was found. Ms Camilleri and her daughter Jessica lived together in the St Clair home
A friend close to the family – who chose to remain anonymous – told Daily Mail Australia that Jessica had appeared more stable in recent times.
It’s understood her improved condition contributed to her sister’s decision to allow her mother to babysit her son in the home she shared with Jessica.
The young boy sustained a minor head injury on Saturday night and was taken to Westmead Children’s Hospital where he was treated, but has since been released.
‘He is being cared for by his family and getting medical support during the course of the day. The family is distraught as to what has taken place,’ Detective Inspector Brett McFadden told reporters.
Jessica’s family had struggled to deal with her profound mental health issues, including bipolar disorder, severe paranoia and anxiety.
She also had intellectual disorders including autism and had received support services in the past.
Rita Camilleri, 57, was found dead with her body lying inside her house and her severed head in a neighbour’s front yard down the street
A neighbour told Daily Mail Australia Jessica (pictured) had appeared more stable in recent times, which contributed to her sister’s decision to allow her mother to babysit her son in the home she shared with Jessica
While she had been in a better frame of mind in recent times she was prone to ‘episodes of instability’ due to her conditions.
‘She may have been coping better recently, but she was severely paranoid,’ the friend said.
‘Sometimes the change can be instant, Jessica could be fine and going well but that doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of instability.
‘I’m still shocked by what happened… she really did love her.’
Jessica loved her entire family but was particularly close to her mother, who tended to her every need and opted to live with her daughter rather than try to find support services to take care of her on a more full time basis, the friend said.
In spite of Ms Camilleri’s unwavering support, other members of the family expressed concerns over Jessica’s conditions and struggled to remain close to the pair.
Jessica’s father and Ms Camilleri’s husband had struggled with her condition which eventually ‘put pressure on the relationship’, the friend told Daily Mail Australia.
The couple eventually divorced and Mr Camilleri moved out of the home. It is not known if he maintained a relationship with his daughter.
Jessica’s family struggled to deal with her profound mental health issues, including bipolar disorder, severe paranoia and anxiety but her mother Rita (pictured) always stood by her
Her daughter Jessica, 25, allegedly carried her head down the road before leaving it in a neighbour’s front yard. She has been charged with murder
Jessica appeared in Parramatta Bail Court on Sunday morning but did not apply for bail.
The friend told Daily Mail that wasn’t surprising, and said she doubted Jessica actually knew what bail was.
Jessica told the judge she was still covered in blood because she hadn’t been able to properly wash herself and was up front about her conditions.
She told the court she suffered from autism, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
‘I really need medical attention. I told all the officers and told the police at the station,’ she told the court.
‘I could not wash myself properly in the shower to get all the blood off because of my fingers.
‘I cannot move my fingers properly because of the incident. I am not fit to come to jail until I get cleaned up.’
Jessica was allegedly terrified of ending up in prison, and those fears were echoed by Ms Camilleri, who supported her daughter through numerous run ins with the law.
Ms Camilleri’s friend said despite the gruesome nature of the alleged crime, prison would never be the right place for Jessica if found guilty.
‘Prison isn’t what anybody wants to see happen.
‘She needs to be somewhere where she will get the help she needs.’
Friends said the mother and daughter duo were ‘very close’ and were always seen together at the home, with no apparent conflict until the late-night screaming match.
Two days before her mum’s grisly death, Jessica was seen having a sweet interaction with her on Facebook after she updated her profile photo (above)
Cathleen Day, another of Ms Camilleri’s friends, told Daily Mail Australia Jessica suffered ‘major mental issues but Rita always supported her.’
‘They were very close. It’s so sad, I’m devastated,’ Ms Day said.
Jessica’s best friend said the young woman has been in and out of mental hospitals but the mother and daughter seemed fine.
‘I saw Jess and her mum the night before, they were fine and laughing,’ she told the Daily Telegraph.
Police on Sunday described the scene as ‘one of the most horrific’ they ever had to face, with officers needing counselling after seeing it.
Ms Camilleri was part of a large family with Maltese heritage and was divorced from Jessica’s father, with whom she had two daughters.
Jessica, 25, allegedly carried her head down the road before leaving it in a neighbour’s front yard
Ms Day, who met Ms Camilleri two years ago through their mutual love of the Bay City Rollers boy band, said her death was devastating.
‘I had a bad feeling, Rita always texts me,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘To add to the sadness, Rita was looking after her bedridden frail mother too… this is just horrific.
‘She was fun, irreverent and vibrant. She loved music and was very community minded. She connected with everyone because she was lovely.’
Another neighbour said the mother and daughter ‘seemed normal’ but there were some incidents in the past that concerned her.
‘They always seemed to have parties, all the time just parties over there, I never heard anything like screaming of shouting,’ they said.
Officers arrived at Ms Camilleri’s home after neighbours heard a ‘violent argument’ in the kitchen between the two women
Blood on the pavement down the street from the Camilleri house where Jessica allegedly carried her mother’s head
‘There had been some issues in the past that had made [Jessica] known to the cops and other groups, but it seems it has gone much further this time.’
Jessica’s manager at Kmart in Mount Druitt said she had not turned up for her cashier job for about a week. Some other staff said they didn’t know who she was.
Officers arrived at Ms Camilleri’s home after neighbours heard a ‘violent argument’ in the kitchen between the two women.
Neighbours ran to help as the sounds of the argument grew more violent, before encountering the severed head on the lawn.
The daughter was arrested in the front yard of a neighbour’s house and taken to St Mary’s Police Station, and was later charged with murder.
‘This is up there with one of the most significant, most horrific scenes police have had to face,’ Inspector McFadden said.
‘There is no stepping away from the fact that this was horrific and a significant attack, and the injuries that the victim suffered were extensive.
‘It is a very difficult, challenging, confronting investigation.
‘We are working with the information available to us and working with the family to establish exactly what has happened, but this is not anything that was foreseeable.’
Multiple knives were seized at the scene and are being forensically examined.
Officers have been interviewing neighbours and investigating the circumstances of the overnight incident.
Neighbours ran to help as the sounds of the argument grew more violent, before encountering the severed head on the lawn