The casket of infant Khandalyce Pearce and her mother Karlie Pearce-Stevenson at the Alice Springs Desert Life Church on December 11, 2015.
The casket of infant Khandalyce Pearce and her mother Karlie Pearce-Stevenson at the Alice Springs Desert Life Church on December 11, 2015.

Suitcase murder: Sex monster ‘guilty’ to killings

A CONVICTED sex offender has pleaded guilty to murdering a mother in Belanglo State Forest before killing her two-year-old daughter and dumping her remains in a suitcase on the side of a road in South Australia

A week before he was due to face trial over the double murder, Daniel James Holdom appeared in the NSW Supreme Court this morning to enter an 11th hour guilty plea to the murders of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson and her two-year-old daughter Khandalyce Pearce.

Holdom appeared in court via video link wearing a green fleece jumper and rested his clasped hands on a desk as he listened to the brief proceedings

In a low, deep voice he said the words "guilty" twice when asked if he murdered Karlie and Khandalyce.

Daniel Holdom has pleaded guilty to murdering a mother in Belanglo State Forest before killing her two-year-old daughter.
Daniel Holdom has pleaded guilty to murdering a mother in Belanglo State Forest before killing her two-year-old daughter.


Officers attached to Strike Force Malaya - including officer in charge Detective Sergeant Darren Gunn - all hugged and shook hands outside courtroom 10C following the guilty pleas.

Holdom, 43, was in a short relationship with Ms Pearce-Stevenson and the pair left Alice Springs in the Northern Territory together, with Khandalyce, in late 2008.

While the couple was staying at Holdom's relative's house in Canberra's northern suburbs, he lured Ms Pearce-Stevenson to Belanglo State Forest in NSW's Southern Highlands on December 14, 2008.

Court documents show Holdom stepped on the 20-year-old mother's throat and crushed her windpipe before leaving her body in the forest.

He also took photographs of her body. Those graphic images were found by a woman known to Holdom on an SD card years later.

The skeleton remained in the forest, which gained a notorious reputation as serial killer Ivan Milat's dumping ground, for two years before motorbike riders discovered the bones on the Red Arm Creek in August, 2010.

NSW Police went to great lengths to try and identify the remains.

A facial anthropologist was brought in, Interpol records searched and images of a T-shirt found near the skeleton - with the word Angelic printed on it - were released to the media.

At the same time, Ms Pearce-Stevenson's family, who didn't know she was dead, was leading their own search.

Daniel Holdom at Maitland court. Illustration: Bernd Heinrich
Daniel Holdom at Maitland court. Illustration: Bernd Heinrich


The family had lost contact with the young mother, a keen netball player who was nicknamed mouse as a child, and they were desperate to hear from her.

However, it would be another five years before Ms Pearce-Stevenson was identified in a remarkable DNA breakthrough.

After Holdom murdered Ms Pearce-Stevenson, he returned to Canberra and traded in her maroon-coloured 1986 Holden Commodore for another car.

On December 19, 2008, he left Charnwood in Canberra with Khandalyce and claimed he was travelling to South Australia to drop her at her grandmother's house.

Instead, he drove to Narrandera, near Wagga Wagga, and checked into a motel with the blonde-haired toddler, affectionately known to family and friends as Khandles.

Holdom, who drifted in and out of jail since his 20s, bought duct tape, dish cloths and garbage bags from a supermarket on the way.

Karlie Jade Pearce-Stevenson
Karlie Jade Pearce-Stevenson

 

 

Khandalyce Pearce.
Khandalyce Pearce.

According to the crown case statement tendered in court, Holdom killed the little girl before putting her body in a suitcase.

He drove towards South Australia, where he dumped the suitcase on the side of a desolate highway near Wynarka in the rural Murray Mallee Region.

Seven years later, in July, 2015, a passing motorist found the suitcase by chance.

He noticed a small jaw bone among a pile of tattered clothing and called police.

It took three months of public appeals and police releasing images of the clothing found in the suitcase, before investigators finally discovered who the little girl was.

In October, 2015, someone called Crime Stoppers claiming they had a photograph of a little girl named Khandalyce with the same distinctive quilt that was found in the suitcase.

South Australian Police retrieved Khandalyce's medical records from her home town in Alice Springs and were able to match the records to a DNA profile extracted from the bones found in the suitcase.

 

The grave of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson and Khandalyce Pearce.
The grave of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson and Khandalyce Pearce.


The focus then turned to the whereabouts of Khandalyce's mother, Karlie Pearce-Stevenson.

Pulling Ms Pearce-Stevenson's medical records allowed investigators to match them against the DNA profile from the bones found in Belanglo State Forest years earlier.

It was a sensational development linking two unsolved crimes in different states but some of the most disturbing details were yet to be uncovered.

Within days of identifying the mother and child, police had their sights on Ms Pearce-Stevenson's former boyfriend, Holdom.

He was already in Cessnock jail, serving a jail term for sexually assaulting an eight-year-old at a caravan park on the Central Coast in 2013.

In a six-hour police interview canvassing 2000 questions, Holdom changed his story on several occasions, only increasing police suspicions.

Days later, Holdom contacted NSW homicide squad detectives, claiming he had examined his conscience and wanted to come clean.

He told police his friend had dropped the mother and daughter at a bus stop in 2008 and he never saw them again.

In a second interview, Holdom offered to go "Crown witness".

 

The casket of infant Khandalyce Pearce and her mother Karlie Pearce-Stevenson at the Alice Springs Desert Life Church on December 11, 2015.
The casket of infant Khandalyce Pearce and her mother Karlie Pearce-Stevenson at the Alice Springs Desert Life Church on December 11, 2015.


Unbeknown to him, the evidence against him was mounting.

Police already had mobile phone records putting him in the Belanglo State Forest area around the time Ms Pearce-Stevenson was killed.

It was later uncovered that more than $70,000 had been siphoned through Ms Pearce-Stevenson's bank account after she was murdered.

Her Centrelink payments were stolen and a woman in a wheelchair pretending to be Ms Pearce-Stevenson turned up to a credit union in Adelaide's northern suburbs in 2010 with her identity documents.

Ms Pearce-Stevenson's mobile phone was also used in the years after her death to contact her family in messages and phone calls that provided a false sense of security she was safe and well.

Karlie Jade Pearce-Stevenson’s mobile phone was also used in the years after her death to contact her family.
Karlie Jade Pearce-Stevenson’s mobile phone was also used in the years after her death to contact her family.

 

 

Daniel Holdom was charged with the murder of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson.
Daniel Holdom was charged with the murder of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson.

 

Her mother Colleen Povey, who died from breast cancer in 2012, filed a missing persons report with NT Police in 2009.

But the case was closed five days later after someone purporting to be Ms Pearce-Stevenson called her mother and said she was fine.

The decision to close the missing person investigation was a mistake because Ms Pearce-Stevenson had not been physically sighted, the court has previously heard.

As a result the fraud, fake phone calls and cover up of the murders continued for years.

Holdom was charged with two counts of murder in 2015.

He is expected to face a sentencing hearing before Justice Robert Hulme on September 28.

Khandalyce Kiara Pearce
Khandalyce Kiara Pearce

 

Khandalyce Kiara Pearce remains were found in a suitcase alongside Karoonda Highway near Wynarka.
Khandalyce Kiara Pearce remains were found in a suitcase alongside Karoonda Highway near Wynarka.


CQ doctor responds to region’s heart health concerns

Premium Content CQ doctor responds to region’s heart health concerns

Dr Ewen McPhee said there were systemic, long-standing public health problems...

’High blood pressure capital’: CQ’s heart-health epidemic

Premium Content ’High blood pressure capital’: CQ’s heart-health epidemic

See why Central Queensland is among the top 10 most inactive regions in the...

Construction plans for two new Mobil servos in Rocky

Premium Content Construction plans for two new Mobil servos in Rocky

Both facilities have been council approved with sites on both sides of the Fitzroy...