Early on the Thursday morning builders arrive at the house next door to erect a pergola, just across the wall from our indoor and outdoor living areas. Their cheerfulness and activity is a painful contrast to my anguish and inertia. Around eleven o’clock my husband phones. A body has been found. The police are in transit to the location. They are anxious to inform us as the media have intercepted the police radio communication and are also rushing to the location. It will be on the airwaves soon. The police don’t want us to hear it first through the media. A formal identification will have to be made.

The wait that follows is excruciating. The police never communicate with me directly. Information is conveyed through my husband so there is no opportunity to get direct answers to my questions. This adds to my feelings of helplessness and isolation. Very soon television crews take up position directly opposite our house, determined to obtain some footage in order to spill our grief into every lounge room in Australia on the evening news.

The inner turmoil, the lack of contact with the police, the incessant, repetitive sound of the nail gun and the builders’ cheerful voices next door, the inability to escape, to even go for a walk because of the TV cameras, all merge together to create a living hell.

I know now that hell is here on earth. By late afternoon I receive confirmation that it is Ciara’s body. Later in the evening I answer the phone. A low haunting voice slowly utters the word ‘dead’ and then there is silence. Fear grips me as I feel the hair on the back of my neck slowly rise and a chill runs through my body. Later the police trace the call to a fourteen-year-old boy.