- Brother appeals for help to find missing Bendigo woman
- Homicide detective says Samantha Kelly may have met with foul play
UPDATE 8.50pm: The people who shared a home with Bendigo mother Samantha Kelly and cared for her young children after she vanished more than three weeks ago have been charged over her murder.
Peter James Arthur appeared in an out of sessions hearing in the Bendigo Police Station on Friday night where he was accused of murdering Ms Kelly, 39, with a hammer at the Kangaroo Flat property they shared.
Mr Arthur has been charged with one count of murder, while his two housemates, Christine Lyons and Ronald Lyons, have each been charged with one count of being an accessory to murder after the fact over an alleged cover up.
Mr Arthur had lead police to bush land west of Bendigo on Thursday night where they found a body, believed to be that of Ms Kelly.
Detective Senior Constable Chris Saulle, from the Homicide squad, reading a summary of facts before a bail justice said Mr Arthur had "inflicted fatal injuries" with a hammer on the Ms Kelly in her bungalow on or about January 20 and then immediately told Ms Lyons and Mr Lyons.
The following day the trio had concocted a story to cover up the crime, a story that Ms Kelly had voluntarily left on January 23, and two days after the alleged murder, Mr Arthur and Mr Lyons had removed the body from the unit with a van, senior Constable Saulle said.
They had then told her young children that their mother "had abandoned them and that she had had enough," before re-enrolling one daughter at school under a made up name using their surname, he said.
Police allege that between January 27 and February 10 Mr Arthur withdraw a total of $3690 from Ms Kelly's bank account using ATMs in Bendigo and Sunbury, often in the company of his co-accused.
Police had attended the home on February 3 after Ms Kelly was reported missing by her interstate brother Michael Kelly but were told she had left voluntarily, Senior Constable Saulle said.
When the trio were called in by police to give evidence on February 9, all three had provided false statements, he said.
Senior Constable Saulle also alleged that Mr Arthur and Mr Lyons removed a couch believed to contain evidence from the property using a rented trailer and dumped it at a tip
Mr Arthur was not allowed to apply for bail because he has been charged with murder, while his two co-accused were denied bail after police argued each was an unacceptable risk.
All three were remanded in custody to appear in the Bendigo Magistrates Court on Monday.
Detective Senior Constable Saulle said all three had admitted to their parts in the crime when they were interviewed by police.
While arguing for bail, Mr Lyons had told the bail justice: "yeah I helped him move the body from the unit to the van, that's it."
When Ms Lyons was asked if she understood what she had been charged with, she responded "yeah, yeah, the murder thing...after the murder of Samantha."
In applying for bail, she later said: "I haven't done anything, I haven't actually hurt anyone or done anything wrong."
Mr Arthur simply responded "nope," when asked if he wanted to raise anything.
Detectives scoured a remote area near Shelbourne - about 30km south west of Bendigo - on Friday afternoon following the discovery of human remains about 11pm the night before.
- Rania Spooner
UPDATE 7.15pm: The housemates of Bendigo mother-of-four Samantha Kelly have been charged over her murder, more than three weeks after she vanished.
Peter James Arthur, 44, of Kangaroo Flat, appeared in an out of sessions hearing at the Bendigo police station on Friday night, charge with her murder.
Detective Senior Constable Chris Saulle opposed bail, alleging that Mr Arthur killed Ms Kelly with a hammer in her bungalow, before stealing $3690 from her bank account over five transactions.
Senior Constable Saulle said Mr Arthur immediately told his other housemates Christine Lyons and Ronald Lyons what he'd done, and the three of them the following day concocted a plan to hide the crime,
Ms Lyons and Mr Lyons also appeared before a bail justice on Friday night, charged with one count each of accessory to murder.
Senior Constable Saulle alleged that Mr Lyons helped Mr Arthur remove the body from the property two days after the murder.
Mr Lyons, in making an application for bail, told the bail justice, "Yeah, I helped him move the body from the unit to the van, that's it".
Mr Lyons and Ms Lyons were both denied bail after a bail justice found they were an "unacceptable risk".
Ms Lyons said: "I haven't done anything. I haven't actually harmed anyone or done anything wrong".
All three were remanded in custody to appear in the Bendigo Magistrates Court on Monday.
UPDATE 7pm: Police have charged Peter James Arthur, 44, of Kangaroo Flat, with one count of murder following the disappearance of mother-of-four Samantha Kelly.
Mr Arthur appeared at an out-of-sessions hearing in Bendigo on Friday night, where he was remanded in custody to face court on Monday.
Christine Lyons, 44, and Ronald Lyons, 43, were each charged with being an accessory to murder at the same hearing.
The charge was laid after a person gave police directions to a body buried in bushland west of Bendigo, believed to be that of Ms Kelly.
UPDATE 3.15pm: Police this afternoon returned to the Kangaroo Flat address where Ms Kelly lived. They have removed a black Mazda wagon and a shovel from the property.
UPDATE NOON: A 44-year-old man, a 43-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman, all from Kangaroo Flat, are being interviewed by police in connection to the disappearance of Samantha Kelly.
Homicide Squad Detective Inspector Mick Hughes said a person had led investigators to a dry creek bed in Shelbourne, west of Bendigo, late last night where they had located a blue tarpaulin containing what they believe to be a body.
Detective Inspector Hughes could not confirm whether the person who led them to the creek bed was one of the three people in custody.
He said the tarpaulin had likely been there several weeks and had dirt shovelled onto it.
Investigations are ongoing as to whether the tarpaulin contains the missing woman's remains.
Detective Inspector Hughes said the investigation was in its early stages and no charges had yet been laid but police had made contact with Ms Kelly's family.
"We can't even say at this stage if there's a body in [the tarpaulin, but] were working on the principle that there is," he said.
"Members of my team spoke to relatives this morning to explain what we had and that there may be a possibility that this may be Samantha's body."
Detective Inspector Hughes said the creek bed was on private property but the landowner was unconnected with the investigation.
"We think it's just an isolated location that's been picked," he said.
"Now the public is aware this is apparently a grave site I'm sure more information will come in."
UPDATE, 11AM: Police will hold a press conference soon.
Samantha Kelly’s sister-in-law has posted to Facebook saying her remains have been discovered.
"Its with great heartbreak we let everyone know that Sammy Kelly has been found.
"Please respect our privacy at this time as i cant even begin to imagine how to handle this."
UPDATE, 10.50AM: Victoria Police has just released the following statement:
Homicide Squad detectives are currently in bush land near Shelbourne where a body has been located following an investigation into the disappearance of Kangaroo Flat woman Samantha Kelly.
The body was located in bush land near Bendigo-Maryborough Road late last night.
Two men and a woman, all from Kangaroo Flat, were arrested following the execution of warrants in Bendigo and Kangaroo Flat yesterday.
The trio are currently being interviewed by detectives from the Homicide Squad.
UPDATE, 10.45AM: Police believe they have found a body west of Bendigo.
UPDATE, 10.25AM: Forensic investigators and homicide squad detectives are on scene.
UPDATE, 10AM: Police have established a crime scene in bushland west of Bendigo.
UPDATE, FRIDAY 8.15AM: Three people remain in police custody over the suspicious disappearance of missing mother Samantha Kelly.
The three are still being interviewed by police and no charges have been laid, a police spokesperson said.
EARLIER: Three people are in custody over the suspicious disappearance of missing mother-of-four Samantha Kelly as police swoop on homes in Bendigo and Kangaroo Flat.
The homicide squad and Bendigo detectives executed two search warrants at properties linked to the case on Thursday afternoon.
"There are three people in custody at the Bendigo Police Station who are assisting police with their investigation," a police spokeswoman said.
"We are not in a position to comment further at this time."
Ms Kelly was last seen around the High Street shopping precinct in Kangaroo Flat, on Wednesday, January 20 about 3.20pm.
Police investigating the disappearance of the 39-year-old cordoned off a house in Kangaroo Flat on Thursday afternoon.
Homicide detectives told a press conference in Bendigo on Wednesday that they fear Ms Kelly may have met with foul play.
Ms Kelly was reported missing on February 4 by her brother, Michael Kelly, who lives interstate.
He told the Bendigo Advertiser on Thursday that his sister’s disappearance was out of character.
"She didn't have any other real interests apart from her kids," he said.
"Anything she's ever got up and done has been for those children."