A 14-year-old girl accused of murdering her 10-year-old cousin was previously suspended from school for throwing a pair of scissors at a classmate.
The teenager allegedly killed the young girl in the family farmhouse just outside Gunnedah in northern New South Wales early on Wednesday morning and fled.
Her mother allegedly told police that her daughter recently started behaving strangely for no apparent reason.
But family friends, school mums and even the girl’s close mates told Daily Mail Australia that was a major understatement.
Instead, they described a girl with a history of troubling behaviour and mental health issues.
A woman walks two horses across a paddock on the farm where a 14-year-old girl allegedly murdered her 10-year-old niece in Gunnedah
The 10-year-old was visiting her cousins on the farm (pictured with the surrounding countryside) a few kilometres out of town for a school holiday sleepover
Just before the end of term, sources revealed she flung a pair of scissors at a classmate and was suspended until the end of the holidays.
School sources said that was the latest in a series of troubling incidents and concerning behaviour that hadn’t been taken seriously enough.
‘She’s been assigned a social worker for years who put her violent outbursts down to depression or a psychotic break,’ they claimed.
‘She isn’t your ordinary teen but… she has a few mental health issues that affect her brain in sometimes terrifying ways,’ they said.
‘A few people who know the girl really well like me have been concerned about it.’
A member of the family with police outside the home on Thursday. The girls and therefore their family cannot be identified
Police and state emergency service volunteers spent Thursday scouring the farm and the route she is believed to have taken to a neighbouring property
Another classmate said she pretended to be a tiger and would ‘hiss’ at people as well as eat food from the ground like a cat.
The girl would also wear outlandish clothing and was ‘always seeking attention’ in the years after she started high school.
Even teenagers who didn’t know the girl have been badly shaken, fearing they could suddenly die in a town they used to feel safe in.
‘My friends and I are scared because she’s our age and if she could do this then one of our classmates could too,’ Brooke, 15, said at the cafe where she works.
‘Nothing like this has ever happened here. We all want to know, how does someone end up like that?’
Gunnedah High School has not contacted students, who resume classes on July 20, about the alleged murder.
After allegedly murdering her cousin, the girl is believed to have left the farmhouse just outside town and walked across the property’s wheat field
She then went through a gate and walked about 1km down a main road
The 10-year-old is from Orange, about 250km west of Sydney and 350km from Gunedah, and was visiting her cousins on the farm for a school holiday sleepover.
Both girls were fast asleep when the older girl’s mother checked on them before going out at 6.30am to tend to the farm.
When she returned just half an hour later she found her niece horrifically slain and her own daughter vanished.
The 14-year-old girl is believed to have walked about 3km to a neighbour’s property with a bloodied weapon in her hand.
Police and state emergency service volunteers spent Thursday scouring the farm and the route she is believed to have taken to get there.
They were looking for the alleged murder weapon, believed to be a knife or axe, but police would not confirm if they found it near the other farm.
After allegedly murdering her cousin, the girl is believed to have left the farmhouse just outside town and walked across the property’s wheat field.
She then went through a gate and walked about 1km down a main road before turning on to a gravel track leading to the other property, past several enormous piles of hay bales.
She then turned on to a gravel track leading to the other property, just on the horizon, past several enormous piles of hay bales
An SES volunteer examines enormous hay bales piled well above his height that the girl is believed to have walked past after the alleged murder
Sources said she was found ‘in a dazed state’ somewhere on the neighbouring property and was taken into custody by police.
On Wednesday night she was charged with murder and refused bail pending her next court appearance, scheduled for September 16.
The shocking crime has the small town rocked to its core and forever destroyed two respected families.
The details of the alleged crime were so disturbing, a local magistrate banned any details from being published.
The accused killer’s younger sister, 12, will have to go back to school when holidays are over, knowing everyone looks at her and thinks of what allegedly happened.
‘I feel sorry for her going back to school. I don’t know how she’s going to manage it,’ one local told Daily Mail Australia.
The girl’s family have lived on the mixed-crop farm for at least 10 years and are well respected for their agricultural skill.
Police examine a spot of interest during their all-day search of the property on Thursday
Forensics collect evidence from in and around the farm house in Gunnedah where a girl, 10, was killed
A close neighbour a few paddocks down the road was shocked the little girl he remembered playing in the grass was accused of a heinous crime.
‘I used to see her and her sister running around the paddock, playing, or with her parents at cattle market,’ he said.
‘She was always very polite and happy, I never had any qualms with her. How does this happen?’
The fellow farmer said the girls came over for dinner with their parents when they were younger, before school kept them busy.
Now he is worried his friends will never recover from an unimaginable family tragedy that will follow them around for the rest of their lives.
‘There’s two tragedies, the poor girl who’s deceased and who knows what’s going to happen to the other one,’ he said.
‘It’s a small town so it will be hard to live here with this.
‘They are the best farmers I know, they get more production off that place than anyone.’
The sleepy town of just 10,000 in northern NSW, was before this week only known as ‘koala capital of the world’
The mayor is moved to tears, schoolgirls look at every classmate as a potential killer and neighbours can only think of a happy girl playing in her paddock
Gunnedah is about an hour west of Tamworth and 450km from Sydney
Other neighbours were so shaken they couldn’t muster the words to describe the situation.
‘It’s just another crop farm… they’re perfectly normal,’ one said.
Besides farming, the coal mines outside Gunnedah are the town’s biggest employers.
But mine worker Renee Frenette, 38, said her coworkers were so shocked by the alleged murder they barely talked about it during her shift on Thursday.
‘Gunnedah is such a small town so it really hits home because I know someone I know will be impacted by this,’ she said.
‘Hearing Gunnedah on the news on Wednesday was quite a shock.’
Mine worker Renee Frenette, 38, (pictured holding her daughter Isabella, 3) said her coworkers were so shocked by the alleged murder they barely talked about it during her shift on Thursday
Detectives and forensics crews spent all day on the farm gathering evidence
Police and state emergency service volunteers meticulously searched paddocks and fields for what is believed to be the alleged murder weapon
Police had refused to detail the girl’s injuries except that that were substantial.
A post-mortem examination in the next few days will disclose more information on how the alleged murder unfolded.
SES crews and police arrive at the property on Thursday to search it for clues
FAMILY FARM HORROR: TIMELINE
Wednesday July 8
* 6:30am: Mother leaves home in Gunnedah, north-west NSW, to do farm work. Her daughter, 14, and niece, 10 are asleep inside.
* 7am: The woman returns and finds the younger girl with serious lacerations and her daughter missing.
* 7:15am: Emergency services arrive at the property but the 10-year-old is already dead.
* 8:30am: Police find the 14-year-old on a neighbouring property after a frantic search. She is taken to Gunnedah Police Station.
*10pm: The child is charged with her cousin’s alleged murder.
Thursday July 9
* The teenager’s case goes before Tamworth Children’s Court. The girl was not in the courtroom and did not apply for bail.
* Police and SES crews search a paddock next to the farmhouse