The mystery surrounding the death of Karlie Pearce-Stevenson and her young daughter Khandalyce has deepened, with police revealing the young mother's bank account was used to access almost $100,000 after her death.
The woman's phone was also used to send text messages and to contact family to make it look like she was still alive, Detective Superintendent Des Bray of the Major Crime Investigation Branch told reporters in Adelaide.
Pearce-Stevenson was found in a NSW forest in 2010, while her young daughter Khandalyce was found inside a suitcase dumped by the side of the road almost 1100 kilometres away at Wynarka, in SA’s Murray Mallee, in July this year.
On Tuesday Police said they believed Pearce-Stevenson's bank account was accessed hundreds of times after she was last seen alive late 2008.
"People we believe may be the offenders and others have taken over Karlie's identity, her telephone, her bank accounts, her Centrelink and family payments," Det Supt Bray said.
"We need to determine if the people involved in the frauds are involved in the murder and it is most likely that one or more may be involved in some way.
"It's clear that some of the people involved in the frauds knew without doubt that Karlie and Khandalyce were dead and continued with their role."
Murder victim Karlie Pearce-Stevenson's identity stolen, mobile phone used after death, police say https://t.co/iQR4A0UhI1— ABC News 24 (@ABCNews24) October 27, 2015
Det Supt Bray said it was believed the mobile phone was kept and used to provide "proof of life" and to mislead family, friends and law enforcement by suggesting Pearce-Stevenson was still alive.
Police say a woman posed as Pearce-Stevenson during a 2010 bank, and again at Centrelink later that same year.
It has also been reported two women and a man are thought to have been involved in the identity theft and in the use of the mobile phone.
South Australian police worked tirelessly to identify Khandalyce since she was found in July; investigating more than one thousand phone calls from the public.
Finally, a breakthrough arrived in two phone calls to Crimestoppers (phone calls number 1267 and then 1271). The caller alerted police to the fact that Karlie Jade Pearce-Stevenson and her daughter Khandalyce had been missing since 2009.
Pearce-Stevenson's mother had reported the pair missing on September 4, 2009, but soon withdrew the report after she was assured the pair was safe and that Karlie did not want any contact with her family.
Pearce-Stevenson's mother has since passed away from an illness but, before she died, a Facebook page was set up in a bid to find Karlie, so her mother could see her one last time. When Karlie’s mother died in 2010, she still believed her daughter and grandchild were living in Alice Springs.
Eventually, one of the callers to CrimeStoppers provided police with a photograph of Khandalyce in a stroller with a quilt reportedly made by her grandmother, which was found in the suitcase with her remains.
Another photograph showed the toddler wearing the pink dress that was also left in in the suitcase.