It’s a terrible thing, but murders and disappearances happen every day, and in every corner of the globe. However, not all victims are always able to get justice. Sometimes, it takes years for the proper evidence to come to light…
This is a story about two disappearances, two deaths that went unsolved for years, and the terrible circumstances that led to justice finally being served…
This story began many years earlier, with the parents of poor young Khandalyce. Daniel and Karlie were not what one would consider a power couple by any stretch of the imagination, but the love they bore together resulted in their adorable daughter. The three of them lived in a small home in Charnwood, in Canberra’s northern suburbs, and were only barely making ends meet…
One morning, as can happen in situations like this, the pair argued about money and found themselves separated for a bit to cool their heads. However, what happened to Karlie after that incident remained shrouded in mystery. It was December 14, 2008 and Daniel returned to Charnwood by himself.
Keep in Touch
After her disappearance, Karlie would communicate over text to her mother now and again, though none of the texts seemed to indicate where she or Khandalyce had gone. Meanwhile, her credit cards and bank account were used for years, by someone who the police could only assume was either her or, once her body was discovered, her abductor/murderer…
When David spoke to police, he claimed he had been having issues with Karlie, issues that were too complex to solve. That, and he wanted to take back up with his ex-girlfriend. That didn’t mean he wanted to be out of little Khandalyce’s life of course, but it did mean he wanted to move out. On the day of Karlie’s disappearance, he stopped by the hotel she was staying at and kissed the two of them goodbye…
Two Years Later
However, two years later, the skeleton of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson, was discovered dumped in the Belanglo State Forest. Previously, police had been laboring under the idea that both Karlie and Khandalyce had been murdered. However, it wasn’t until they found Karlie’s body that their theory was given life. Now, they had to figure out who was responsible, and find the child.
Dropped Her Off
Obviously the first person they asked was her husband Daniel. But he calmly explained his story, Karlie had been staying at the motel and he had picked up the toddler and dropped her off there with her in South Australia. At the time of their disappearance, that alibi had been enough. Now that they found Karlie, and foul play was suspected, they needed more proof.
It would be another five years before police received another break in the case. When a suitcase was found on the side of a desolate highway near Wynarka, South Australia, police found its contents were garbage bags, duct tape, and the rotting remains of what appeared to be a very young child: one who had vanished seven years prior.
When little Khandalyce’s body was found in the suitcase, they decided to bring in her father Daniel Holdom. Before they could question him, however, they received a rather telling bit of info from an informant: someone had seen Holdom leaving the motel and driving towards Wagga Wagga, Australia that very same day: and he wasn’t alone…
Interviews with people in the area led to witnesses reporting that on the day of her disappearance, people saw Daniel Holdom leaving the hotel with two-year-old Khandalyce and checking into another motel closer to Wagga Wagga after buying duct tape, garbage bags, a dishcloth, and body wash gel.
Bring Him In
Soon enough, Daniel Holdom was brought in for questioning once again. Over the course of the next six hours, Holdom lied to the police over and over again, changing his story at every turn. Finally, after nearly 2000 questions, Holdom’s story fell apart and he had no choice but to reveal what really happened that day: and it was not pleasant…
Before he came clean though, he had to try to point the blame at someone else. In his mind, Holdom had come to the police because after seven years, he had “examined his conscience” and wanted to tell them who was really responsible for Karlie and Khandalyce’s deaths. He claimed that a former friend had dropped both of them at a bus stop on that day and that Holdom never saw them again after that. Which of course was different from his first story.
Holdom was providing different versions of the same story. Twice, he suggested that this friend was the culprit, but in both cases, provided different information on what had occurred. The bodies themselves were found within 1200 kilometers of one another and five years apart, but DNA evidence on both corpses made all of Holdom’s lies even more unlikely. Not to mention some telling accounts by witnesses…
There were also many posts that Holdom had made on Facebook that referred to them being alive. Posts which many of Holdom’s friends and family all knew to be false. “He said he killed Karlie and Khandal but their still alive. It’s all over Facebook … but he says their dead and he made them think she’s alive…” explained one witness who went on to say, “But everything he says don’t made sense apparently he killed her in dec 2008…”
The police had brought Holdom in not only on suspicion that he had something to do with Khandalyce’s death but also his wife’s. A witness said that he had once told them how he killed Karlie Pearce-Stevenson. Apparently, by his own admission, he had stepped on her throat, crushing her windpipe, killing her instantly. Then he left her body by a tree. Tracking information on her mobile phone eventually confirmed this to be in keeping with the path that phone took that day…
In the end, Holdom was undone by his own loose lips. He had admitted to the killings to two separate witnesses. One of whom made a diary note about it. Police also discovered an alleged photo of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson’s body after he’d killed her. The evidence against him was absolutely overwhelming.
Seriously…Just Gobs of Evidence
Finally, in 2015, seven years after their disappearance, Daniel Holdom was charged with the murder of his former girlfriend and his daughter. They have also charged him with the theft of over $70,000 in Centrelink payments over the course of those seven years. It was a pretty open-and-shut case…
When it came down to the trial, the prosecution and defense had to read over what amounted to 42 volumes of evidence in the case against Daniel Holdom. Yet, as compelling as that mountain of evidence was, quantity does not always equal quality, and the majority of that evidence turned out to be overwhelming circumstantial. Especially when one of the witnesses came forward to recant her account.
Meanwhile, as the prosecution did its level best to make a case against the self-proclaimed murderer, Karlie and Khandalyce’s families tried to be patient. They had waited so long for justice, and they weren’t about to let it all go because of some technicality…
In the end, it was not a series of clues that led police to the guilty party, but Holdom’s own belief that he was untouchable. So confident was he that he would get away scot free, that he continued to not only use his deceased ex’s money for years after, but openly boasted about the brutal way he had killed her.
Eventually, the magistrate in charge of the case agreed that circumstantial or no, the case against Daniel James Holdom was too compelling to dismiss outright. Holdom will stand trial in 2018 and if he is convicted, he will be eligible for a lifetime behind bars. A fitting punishment for a man who allegedly killed his own child.