Police have ripped apart the rundown caravan where Charlise Mutten’s mother was staying before her daughter was allegedly murdered.
Detectives and forensic officers swarmed over every inch of the white 1970s van and a nearby cabin in the grounds of the Riviera Ski Gardens at Lower Portland on the Hawkesbury River, 80km north-east of Sydney.
They spent hours meticulously searching the two locations and took away multiple bags of potential evidence for forensic analysis while two men apparently under police guard sat motionless nearby, watching on.
Residents at the secluded location recalled seeing a ‘chatty’ Charlise on a ferry to the campsite alongside her alleged killer Justin Stein just days before the schoolgirl died.
Witnesses said the murder accused was behaving oddly during the trip, silently ‘staring straight ahead’.
Kallista Mutten (pictured a few years ago) with her daughter Charlise, who were seen together staying at the caravan and cabin park at Lower Portland days before the girl’s alleged murder
Detectives and forensic officers (pictured) swarmed over every corner of the white 1970s- era static van and also a cabin on the grounds of the Riviera Ski Gardens at Lower Portland
As they spent hours meticulously sifting through the caravan and the cabin, two men appeared to be under police guard and remained motionless near the caravan which is set slightly back from the Hawkesbury River
Kallista Mutten was staying in the caravan at the secluded location, where residents remember seeing a ‘chatty’ Charlise with a non-communicative Justin Stein ‘staring straight ahead’ on a ferry travelling towards the Riviera Ski park days before the schoolgirl died
Police arrived armed with a search warrant, forensic kits and brown evidence bags on Friday at Riviera Ski Gardens, one of a number of caravan parks clustered on bends of the Hawkesbury River where it joins up to the Colo River.
The park has around 63 cabins, caravans and shacks on ten hectares with almost half a kilometre of river frontage.
It is about 20km east of where police found Charlise Mutten’s body inside a barrel dumped in bushland on a bank of the Colo River.
The elderly couple who own the park were visibly upset by the police search of the caravan and cabin and police had to intervene after a confrontation between the couple and media.
Forensic officers in white overalls and wearing gloves painstakingly inspected the various points of entry at the caravan and cabin, searching windows, screens and crevices and removing many bags of evidence.
Cars on the Hawkesbury River ferry at Lower Portland on Friday, where Charlise was reportedly seen crossing the river with her mother’s fiance, Justin Stein in the days before her death
Locals at Lower Portland reported sightings of a ‘chatty’ Charlise with an emotionless Justin Stein who ‘stared straight ahead’ on a ferry ride
Cars line up for the arrival of the Lower Portland ferry near the caravan park where Charlise Mutten was staying with her mother Kallista before she was allegedly murdered
The Hawkesbury command officer spoke briefly with the two detained men who were later allowed to leave without incident.
Homicide detectives are yet to identify a motive behind the alleged murder of Charlise and are trying to piece together why the girl and her mother were staying at the caravan park in the lead-up to the child’s death.
The park is about a 90-minute drive from the Stein family estate Wildenstein at Mount Wilson where police allege Charlise was killed between the night of Tuesday, January 11 and Wednesday, January 12.
Sightings around Lower Portland where Charlise Mutten stayed with her mother Kallista allegedly place the nine-year-old’s stepfather Justin Stein (above) in the little girl’s company
Cabin at Riviera Ski Gardens at Lower Portland which is 20km east of the location Charlise Mutten’s body in a barrel was dumped after she was allegedly murdered
It’s understood Charlise and Ms Mutten had been spending time both at the caravan park and at Wildenstein.
As police continue to build a picture of what happened, residents claimed they saw Stein with Charlise and Ms Mutten at the park in the days before she was reported missing.
‘The daughter was there for a couple of days, she was playing around with the daughter of a friend of mine,’ one person told The Daily Telegraph.
Detectives hope Ms Mutten can shed light on why her daughter was alone in Stein’s care the night she was allegedly murdered.
However, they have been unable to interview her due to her mental state, and she remains in hospital under close medical supervision.
Police allege Justin Stein drove around with Charlise’s body encased in a barrel in a boat towed bythe accused’s ute around to various locations before dumping the girl on the Colo River
Detectives are still piecing together why Charlise was at the luxury Wildenstein estate in the Blue Mountains without her mother who was allegedly 80km away in a rundown 1970s model caravan
Kallista Mutten – who is pregnant with Stein’s baby – suffered a ‘medical episode’ (above) at Wildenstein and was taken to Katoomba hospital where she is yet to give a formal police interview
Ms Mutten – who is pregnant with Stein’s baby – suffered a ‘medical episode’ about the time she contacted police on January 14 to say her daughter was missing.
She has been in the Blue Mountains Hospital at Katoomba since and detectives are yet to formally interview her.
Detectives charged Justin Stein with murder and he has been remanded to appear in custody in Penrith Local Court in March.
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