The babysitter of two young sisters found dead inside a hot car has revealed her final conversation with the girls’ mother, who has now been charged with drug offences as well as murder.
Kerri-Ann Conley, 27, was refused bail at the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday, after being charged over the deaths of Darcey, two, and Chloe-Ann, one on Saturday.
Conley has been charged with murder – under a new definition including ‘reckless indifference to human life’ – as well possessing dangerous drugs (cannabis) and possessing drug utensils or a pipe.
The girls were found ‘unresponsive’ in the black of Conley’s black Mazda stationwagon about 1.35pm on Saturday and could not be revived.
Just hours before, Conley’s babysitter Gina McKenzie said she ‘seemed like her normal self’ when she dropped off a Samsung charger about 8.30pm on Friday.
As for the children, ‘they were both fine’, she said. Ms McKenzie believes she may have been the last person to see the family.
Kerri-Ann Conley was charged with two counts of murder after her daughters died when they were allegedly left in a hot car. Now she has been charged with drug offences too
Two-year-old Darcey and one-year-old Chloe-Ann (left and right) died after being found unresponsive in a hot car in outside their home in Logan, south of Brisbane on Saturday
Babysitter Gina McKenzie (above) says Kerri-Ann Conley seemed like her ‘normal self’ the evening before the children were found dead in a hot car in Logan, south of Brisbane
‘She (the mother) said see you tomorrow – as I was meant to watch Chloe for a couple of hours,’ Ms McKenzie said.
Investigators are now appealing for information about a man who was seen wearing hi-vis clothing at the park at the same time the girls were found dead.
The man is not considered a suspect in the case but may hold a clue into what happened.
Police are also investigating whether the single mother had drugs in her system at the time of her daughters’ deaths.
The babysitter said: ‘They were happy little girls. Chloe always had a smile on her face from ear to ear.
‘Darcey was a good big sister – they would have been very close girls’.
Ms McKenzie said Conley had a medical condition which caused her to suffer seizures from time to time, but wasn’t certain of the exact cause.
The girls were seen sitting alone in the car before the tragedy on Saturday, one neighbour claimed to reporters.
‘I’ve seen them in the car before,’ the neighbour told The Australian. ‘Whenever you see that you just think, “maybe she’s forgotten something inside or something”.’
Meanwhile, the state’s premier, Annastacia Palaszcuk, has confirmed the family was known to the Department of Child Safety.
Friends had claimed several reports had been made to DOCS in the past.
Darcey (right) and Chloe (left) were smiley little girls who were loved by everyone and anyone who met them
Conley and Darcey, her two year old daughter. She ‘was a good big sister,’ the babysitter said
This is the Mazda stationwagon where police will allege that the two girls were left on Saturday
Ms Conley’s black Mazda, which she has owned for four years, was parked on the grass at the front of the house on Sunday as detectives and specialist forensic officers continued their investigation.
Neighbours noted it was strange for the car to be parked so close to the house as it was usually left in the driveway.
Nine News had claimed Conley was believed to have fallen asleep and forgotten the girls were still in the car on Saturday as temperatures soared to 31C.
After finding Darcey and Chloe inside the car, she reportedly ran the girls a cold bath to try and cool them down after bringing them inside.
Witnesses said that when they saw the two girls being taken away from the home they assumed they had drowned because they were covered in water.
‘My granddaughters saw the babies being carried out of the house soaking wet,’ a neighbour told The Courier Mail.
‘It is a tragic accident, she was a good mum.’
The house is now a crime scene with police tape surrounding the fence. Pictured: Mourners have left flowers and soft toys
Darcey’s father, who asked to remain anonymous, told the publication his ex-partner shared a close bond with both of her daughters.
‘If you had seen videos, photos, that I’ve got of Kerri-Ann and the girls mate… she adored them and they adored her,’ he said.
The man said he also saw himself as a father figure to Chloe, and is devastated the girls will no longer get the chance to reach their full potential.
He described them as ‘inseparable’ and ‘two peas in a pod’, before adding they would’ve grown up to be best friends if they had the chance.
The girls are believed to have been inside the black Mazda station wagon for a number of hours as temperatures reached 31C
A boy leaves stuffed toys at the front of the Waterford West home to remember the two sisters who died
‘They giggled all the time, the pair of them. Although they were 12 months apart, Chloe wasn’t really that far behind Darcey. I think she learnt a lot off Darcey, mannerisms,’ he reportedly said.
Police are still piecing together the events of the day, but one woman claimed her grandson noticed the girls in the car about 6.30am.
That would mean they’d been trapped for at least seven hours before police arrived at 1.30pm.
Officers reportedly stayed with Conley from that point onwards, right up until she was formally charged at 11pm and transferred to the Brisbane watch house, where she spent Saturday night and Sunday night.
Detectives leave the Waterford West home on Sunday with items gathered from inside the property
Children’s toys are seen sprawled in the front yard behind the front fence of the house in Waterford West, Logan
Neighbours previously said the siblings were ‘gorgeous little girls’.
‘They were always dressed beautifully and just happy little girls…. They were always out in the yard playing,’ one said.
Members of the local community visited the home on Logan Reserve Road, in Waterford West, to remember the girls on Sunday morning.
Flower bouquets and stuffed animals were placed on the grass below the front fence, which is lined with police tape amid investigations into the deaths.
Queensland Police Detective Inspector Mark White said the children died from extreme heat exposure.