Huge twist in search for Charlise Mutten in Mount Wilson


A red ute belonging to Charlise Mutten’s stepfather is at the centre of the police investigation into her disappearance, as officers confirm that they still don’t know what the nine-year-old was wearing at the time of her disappearance.  

The schoolgirl was last seen on Thursday afternoon on the verandah of a sprawling five-hectare property in the Blue Mountains suburb of Mount Wilson, which is owned by the family of her mother Kallista Mutten’s fiance, Justin Stein.

Charlise, who usually lives with her grandmother in Coolangatta, Queensland but was visiting her mum for the holidays, was reported missing the following morning at 8.20am.   

A search team scouring the bush for Charlise were told during a briefing on Tuesday morning that she would likely be lying still from exhaustion, if she has ran off and is found alive.

It is understood police investigators are scouring CCTV footage to search for evidence about the recent movements of Mr Stein’s ute, which officers seized in Penrith last week. 

Charlise Mutten, 9, was staying with her mother Kallista Mutten when she disappeared on Thursday at a sprawling private wedding venue owned by the family of her fiancé, Justin Stein

Kallista Mutten's fiancé Justin Stein (pictured) went to Penrith on Friday to speak with NSW police

Kallista Mutten’s fiancé Justin Stein (pictured) went to Penrith on Friday to speak with NSW police

Police have seized a red ute (pictured) as part of their investigation, which will be forensically examined

Police have seized a red ute (pictured) as part of their investigation, which will be forensically examined

Daily Mail Australia is not suggesting Mr Stein had anything to do with Charlise’s disappearance, simply that his vehicle’s movements are being examined.

A small group of emergency services workers, whose numbers have been depleted by a Covid outbreak among volunteers, were warned on day five of the search on Tuesday that the nine-year-old would be by now ‘lethargic’ and ‘stationary’.

‘It’s day five. She’s not going to be mobile,’ a police officer told the Rural Fire Service and SES searchers.

The officer warned them that Charlise would need water from a ‘bottle, puddle or dam’.

He couldn’t provide them with a description of what clothes she might be wearing as ‘we don’t have clothing unfortunately. We don’t know what she is wearing’.

The stepfather and mother of Charlise Mutten have told police they can’t remember what she was wearing when last seen on the verandah of the wedding venue property Wildenstein last Thursday afternoon.

While Charlise was initially said to be wearing a pink top, black knee-length skirt and pink Nike thongs when she was last seen, neither Kallista Mutten or her fiance have not been able to definitively say how she was dressed.

RFS volunteers (pictured) found footprints on a nearby fire trail. Police found also 'certain items' relating to the search

RFS volunteers (pictured) found footprints on a nearby fire trail. Police found also ‘certain items’ relating to the search

Charlise Mutten (pictured) went missing on Thursday afternoon. Investigators have been scouring the scene, with the search now entering its fifth day

Charlise Mutten (pictured) went missing on Thursday afternoon. Investigators have been scouring the scene, with the search now entering its fifth day

On Sunday night, Charlise’s biological father issued a cryptic social media post.

‘Has anyone won the ‘Worlds most hopeless person award’ twice? We have a repeat entry this year!’ he wrote on Facebook. 

Detectives are treating the disappearance as a possible homicide, with officers spending five hours on Monday scouring the property she vanished from. 

Asked directly if police believed her disappearance was suspicious on Monday, Police Area Command Acting Superintendent John Nelson would only say detectives were ‘not discounting any scenario’. 

The search was hampered by heavy rain yesterday, forcing SES and RFS volunteers to wind up their search ahead of what would be Charlise’s fifth night missing in the mountains. 

Charlise Mutten was last seen on Thursday afternoon. She was reported missing on Friday

Charlise Mutten was last seen on Thursday afternoon. She was reported missing on Friday 

Dramatic footage captured by Daily Mail Australia showed police cars and a large number of detectives on foot swoop on the retreat at 11.30am on Monday. 

Investigators ordered the media to ‘leave, now!’ from outside the gates on Monday morning – moments after plain clothes child protection squad officers drove into the property.

NSW Police divers spent hours searching a pond on the Wildenstein property at Mt Wilson on Saturday

NSW Police divers spent hours searching a pond on the Wildenstein property at Mt Wilson on Saturday

A police bus followed by unmarked police cars rolled through the gates as a uniformed officer stood guard.

They stayed at the property for five hours before leaving that afternoon. 

Rescue teams spent Monday scouring dense bushland, fire trails, murky ponds and rivers in 30C heat following a promising development on Sunday. 

Rural Fire Service volunteers found a ‘very small and barefooted’ footprint along a trail just a few kilometres away from where Charlise was las seen, with NSW Police Chief Inspector Gary Sims also telling reporters ‘certain items’ had been found.

But Inspector Sims said the items ‘unfortunately haven’t led to anything that gives us a definite indication of her location’. 

Picture: The sprawling five-hectare Mount Wilson property where Charlise Mutten went missing

Picture: The sprawling five-hectare Mount Wilson property where Charlise Mutten went missing

Charlise Mutten (pictured) went missing from the Blue Mountains on Thursday night. Family members have been unable to confirm to police her last known outfit

Charlise Mutten (pictured) went missing from the Blue Mountains on Thursday night. Family members have been unable to confirm to police her last known outfit

More than 90 Rural Fire Service officers have been deployed in groups of seven to ten across Mount Irvine and Mount Wilson to search for Charlise, and items of the mystery clothing she was wearing when she vanished.  

NSW RFS Commander Peter Bennett told Daily Mail Australia the search parties had reached the ‘saturation point’ of available officers from four different stations at Chifley, Macarthur, Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains.

He described the search areas as ‘inhospitable’ and the task as ‘exhausting’, with officers were on the lookout for traces of Charlise ‘or anything unusual’.

Ten groups of firefighters searched an area of 10km on Monday.

The search for nine-year-old Charlise started on Friday and went over the weekend (pictured, police at the scene on Monday)

The search for nine-year-old Charlise started on Friday and went over the weekend (pictured, police at the scene on Monday)

Pictured: Charlise as a toddler with her mother Kallista. The youngster normally lives with her grandmother in Queensland

Pictured: Charlise as a toddler with her mother Kallista. The youngster normally lives with her grandmother in Queensland

‘It’s pretty thick scrub,’ he said, ‘walking in line through that is exhausting.’  

Ms Mutten is not believed to have given a formal interview on Monday, despite expectations she would be spoken to.

Ms Mutten collapsed and was taken to hospital shortly after her daughter was reported missing.

There is no suggestion she or her fiancé were involved in her daughter’s disappearance.

Searchers who set off to comb vast areas of bush have been encouraged to call out Charlise’s name as they conduct line searches.   

A distressed Kallista Mutten is consoled by emergency workers on Saturday

Kallista Mutten pictured smiling with her daughter Charlise

Her distressed mum Kallista Mutten (pictured, left and right, with Charlise) was consoled by emergency workers on Saturday

Police divers searched the waters of the Hawkesbury River on Saturday (pictured) and seized a boat, which is being scanned for fingerprints

Police divers searched the waters of the Hawkesbury River on Saturday (pictured) and seized a boat, which is being scanned for fingerprints

Police divers searched the waters of the Hawkesbury River on Saturday and seized a boat, which is being scanned for fingerprints.

Following her daughter’s disappearance, Ms Mutten collapsed and was taken to hospital. Mr Stein spoke to police on Friday. 

‘For any parent this is a distressing scenario, so yes she is quite distressed so we’re providing her with support,’ acting superintendent John Nelson said. 

The nine-year-old is described as being of Caucasian appearance with brown hair and blue eyes, and is between 130 and 140 centimetres tall.

Rural fire service volunteers have used ‘line searching’ tactics and marked out any items found in their painstaking search.  

NSW Police sent out multiple geo-targeting text messages to all residents in the area on Friday and Saturday evening to inform them of Charlise’s disappearance and request help.

They also asked social media users to share the missing girl’s photo widely.

Police are appealing for anyone with information about her whereabouts to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

TIMELINE OF CHARLISE MUTTEN’S DISAPPEARANCE

January 13: Charlise Mutten, nine, was last seen on the verandah of an estate called Wildenstein in Mount Wilson, north-west of Sydney. 

January 14: Charlise was reported missing at 8.20am. Police flocked to the 12.5-acre wedding venue and established a crime scene.

Neighbours told detectives they saw a car at 4.20am on Friday, with no headlights on.

Investigators seized a Holden Colorado ute on High Street in Penrith for forensic testing, which belongs to her mother’s fiance.

Her mother Kallista Mutten, 31, collapsed and was taken to hospital.

Ms Mutten’s fiancé Justin Stein, whose family owns the lavish property, spoke with police in Penrith. 

January 15: Homicide detectives took over the search.

Police divers seized a boat in the Hawkesbury River and scanned it for fingerprints. The boat will also be kept for forensic testing.

Investigators continued to scour fire trails in dense bushland surrounding the property.

January 16: RFS volunteers found ‘very small and barefooted’ prints along a fire trail.

‘Certain items’ have been uncovered by detectives, but police have not been able to determine the schoolgirl’s whereabouts.

January 17: A convoy of five police vehicles and detectives on foot entered the property around 11.30am.

One detective ordered media to ‘leave, now!’ from outside the gates of the five hectare wedding venue retreat

A police bus followed by unmarked police cars rolled through the gates as a uniformed officer stood guard. 

Earlier, plain clothes child protection squad officers drove into the property. 

Ms Mutten will be questioned by police.

January 18: Police say Charlise will likely be ‘lethargic’ and ‘stationary’ if she’s lost in the bush. 

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