Horror in suburbia – the murder of Rita Camilleri

The western Sydney suburb of St Clair is usually quiet and sleepy. Around 20,000 people live in the town and it’s around a 40 minute drive into the Sydney CBD. And last Saturday night, the unthinkable happened.

At around 11.40pm on Saturday July 20, residents of St Clair Avenue heard a loud argument.

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The crime scene

Some of the neighbours rushed outside to see what was going on. They were greeted with the sight of a woman covered in blood and a human head(!) on the footpath outside their homes. Police were called and the rushed to the scene.

The daughter was arrested in the front yard of a neighbour's house and taken to St Mary's Police Station, and was later charged with murder

Amongst the carnage, the body of Rita Camilleri (57) was discovered in the kitchen of her home. She had been decapitated and it was her head that was on the footpath. The killer was her very own daughter, Jessica (25). Jessica was covered in blood and was arrested on the spot. It is said that Jessica used ‘a number of knives’ in the murder.

Rita Camilleri, 57, was found dead with her body lying inside her house and her severed head in a neighbour's front yard down the street
Rita Camilleri

Since the attack, details have emerged regarding Jessica’s mental health struggles. Jessica told police she suffered from autism, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. 

Jessica did not apply for bail when she faced Parramatta Bail Court on Sunday and will be held for a mental health assessment
Jessica Camilleri

Jessica has been taken for a mental health assessment following her arrest.

‘I really need medical attention. I told all the officers and told the police at the station,’ she told the Parramatta Bail court.

‘I cannot move my fingers properly because of the incident. I am not fit to come to jail until I get cleaned up.

Jessica has a long history of violence and unprovoked attacks, sometimes on random strangers. Comments on Facebook detail some of her past attacks:

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St Clair locals also shared their experiences of Jessica:

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Jessica’s Facebook posts show that she has a fascination with horror movies – she posted multiple times about the movie Jeepers Creepers in the weeks before the attack. The Jeepers Creepers series of films is about a supernatural creature that stalks travellers in order to eat their body parts and make them part of its own body.

Jessica is charged with her mother's murder. Picture: Facebook
Jessica’s post and Rita’s comment about the Jeepers Creepers movies

Rita had sent worried messages to friends before the attack:

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To make matters even worse (if that’s even possible!), Rita was babysitting her 4-year old grandson at the time of her death. The child was injured and he witnessed the attack. Police on Sunday described the scene as ‘one of the most horrific’ they ever had to face, with officers needing counselling after seeing it.  

Forensics officers investigate the scene of the crime outside the house in western Sydney
Police at the scene
Jessica’s Facebook profile photo. Picture: Facebook
A comment from Rita on Jessica’s FB post

Strike Force Comeroy has been established to investigate the murder.

Detective Superintendent Brett McFadden commended the professionalism of police. He said Jessica was known to police but “there was no information that this situation in the family home was likely to occur”. “The family is distraught as to what has taken place,” he said.

Police Detective Superintendent Brett McFadden described the case as ‘horrific’. Picture: David Swift.
Detective Superintendent Brett McFadden

A knife was seized for forensic examination and several crime scenes were established inside the home, police said.

‘They were so close… they were always together’: Daughter, 25, accused of DECAPITATING her mother was spotted ‘fine and laughing’ with her just hours before ‘gruesome attack’

Jessica Camilleri’s Facebook posts days before she allegedly murdered her mother

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