Jayde Kendall, a 16-year-old high school girl from the small Australian town of Gatton, just outside of Brisbane, vanished on August 14 from outside her high school, but after her hometown held candlelight vigils and police investigators struggled to figure out what happened to her, the anguish of her disappearance was made far worse when a farmer discovered her slain body lying in the middle of a fenced-in field, drenched by the rain.
Police wasted no time in arresting the teenager who they say murdered Jayde Kendall. The accused killer, taken into custody Thursday, is 18-year-old Brendan Bennetts, a school friend of Jayde Kendall, who picked the smiling teen up in his red 2003 Toyota Corolla hatchback on that day two weeks ago at Lockyer District High School where they both were students.
After getting into the car with Bennetts, Jayde was never seen alive again.
Matt Howard, a detective on the Kendall case, said that investigators have yet to determine how long the teen girl’s body had been lying in the paddock, and that it was “highly likely” that she was simply dumped there by her killer.
In addition to the murder charge, Bennetts has also been charged with “misconduct with a corpse,” presumably by leaving her body alone on the remote farm.
Investigators also said that someone withdrew money from Jayde’s bank account on the evening that she disappeared, and that one of her possessions —police did not reveal what — turned up on a roadside about 25 miles from where she was last seen alive, five days later.
Police had questioned Bennetts extensively after Jayde’s disappearance, but he contended that he had just dropped the girl off and proceeded on his way. But after the discovery of the young girl’s body, police caught up to Bennetts at his lawyer’s office, where he was waiting to be arrested.
But that lawyer, Brendan Ryan, says that the accused youth plans to enter a not guilty plea when he appears for arraignment in court Friday. Ryan said that Bennetts and Jayde were indeed friends, but knew each other only in a “limited” way.
Nonetheless, he said that the teen had been depressed and experiencing “significant remorse” over the tragedy that befell his school friend.
“We love our son very much,” the boy’s father said to the Courier-Mail newspaper. “We will continue to support him and we’re sorry for the family and friends and the loss that they have had.”
But the death of Jayde Kendall is said to have hit her father especially hard, since his wife, Jayde’s mother, had died of cancer some time ago.
[Image: News 9 Australia Screen Grabs]