The suspected double murder of a mother and daughter whose remains were found years apart could have been the work of a serial killer, police have said.
The skeletal remains of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson and Khandalyce Kiara Pearce were found 1200km apart — the mother in a New South Wales state forest, and her daughter beside a South Australian highway — about seven years after they were last seen.
Authorities investigating the deaths questioned a number of suspects last week and have not ruled out the possibility they were not the only victims of their killer.
“There is no escaping the fact there are some traits of these victims which mean it could be the work of a serial killer, including the dumping of the body in Belanglo,” an unnamed officer told The Daily Telegraph.
Police told media last week the pair died violent deaths, but did not allege a cause.
Investigators confirmed Karlie was last seen driving a car with Khandalyce on the Stuart Highway near Coober Pedy, SA, on November 8, 2008.
The bones of Ms Pearce-Stevenson were found in Belanglo State Forest in 2010 and were unidentified until a breakthrough in the investigation into a two-year-old girl’s remains found in a suitcase by the highway at Wynarka in South Australia in July.
A number of suspects were questioned, including a previously convicted paedophile currently serving a four-and-a-half year sentence, News Limited reported.
“His movements and those of Karlie will be one part the investigation,” the police source said.
“But he is by no means the only person being spoken to and there are other targets being looked at.”
Australia has a sordid history of vicious multiple killings, many of which have fascinated audiences on the big screen.
Arguably the most notorious was Ivan Milat, the twisted inspiration for John Jarrett’s Mick Taylor in the 2005 horror film Wolf Creek.
Milat was found guilty of killing seven hitchhikers and burying their bodies in shallow graves in Belanglo State Forest, although he was suspected of many more.
He was convicted to serve seven consecutive life sentences and 18 years of non-parole.
Meanwhile, the South Australian town of Snowtown was the location of the discovery of eight bodies in barrels filled with acid and stored in a disused bank vault.
Four people, led by John Justin Bunting, were convicted of the murders, which occurred between 1992 and 1999.