Nine-year-old Charlise Mutten was shot dead before her body was dumped in a barrel in bushland in the Blue Mountains, police have revealed.
Homicide Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty, said a post-mortem revealed the girl – who was reported missing from Mount Wilson on January 14 – suffered a gunshot wound.
"Charlise ... suffered a fatal gunshot wound and that's how she died," he told reporters on Tuesday.
The child's disappearance triggered an intensive five-day search of bushland until her body was discovered a week ago, in a barrel dumped near the Colo River northwest of Sydney.
Justin Laurens Stein, 31, faced court last week charged with murder after being arrested at a Surry Hills unit.
Police have interviewed Charlise's mother Kallista who provided a statement that she was not present at the property at the time of the murder. It is alleged Stein acted alone.
Haunting vision released of ute
After Charlise was reported missing on January 14, police seized a red Holden ute and a boat.
On Tuesday, authorities released CCTV showing a red ute travelling from Sydney’s west towards the city.
The vehicle is towing a boat, and a tall object under a blue tarp can be seen in the back of the ute.
At 5.53pm, it pulls into a BP service station in Marsden Park.
At 7.17pm the ute is seen waiting at an intersection on Victoria Road in Drummoyne. Several minutes later, security vision from a home on Bayswater Road in Drummoyne captures the ute driving towards the Five Dock Bay boat ramp.
Detective Superintendent Doherty detailed more locations of the vehicle's route at a press conference on Tuesday.
“Very importantly between 7.20pm and 9.50pm at the Five Dock boat ramp at Drummoyne. The following morning, early hours of the 14th of Jan, about 1.30am - 140am , the Windsor boat ramp at Livingstone Street, Windsor.
"And then at the Colo River on the 14th of January at 2.25am to 2.30am, the Colo River jetty, under the Putty Road bridge. And 2.37am to 2.46am at Lower Colo Road."
'Gaps' in movements as item disappears from ute
Supt Doherty said an object seen on the back of the ute in the CCTV footage disappeared at some point in the timeline.
“What I can also say is at some stage after leaving the Colo River, that item wasn’t on the ute when it stopped at another service station at Bells Line of Road at Kurmond."
He said Charlise's death was "hard to talk about and hard to think about" but the information needs to be reported "to get the truth".
Police said the crime scene at Mount Wilson is “ongoing” and are appealing to anyone who may have seen suspicious activity in the CCTV locations.
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