25, 2005 - October 11, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial
October 17, 2007,
some children playing near a pond in a park in Mandurama Reserve at
New South Wales, Australia found a suitcase that contained the body of
three children in all and each of her children had a different
father. Dean was in the middle between his older half sister, who was
and younger half brother who was six at the time of his death.
prior to his death, Rachel Pfitzner had moved into a new home, a public
housing estate in Pindarus Place, Rosemeadow, with her children,
Dean. Calls to The NSW Department of Community Services were made
the welfare of Dean and that prompted a court order to be made and
of Dean was transferred to his grandmother. Dean had been living with
paternal grandparents in Tamworth, up until June when he had gone for a
visit with is mother. Rachel had never brought home from that visit.
police went to talk to her about the court order, Rachel said that Dean
was already in the custody of the DOCS. That was, of course, a lie.
11:00 a.m. and
11:30 a.m. on October 11, 2007, Rachel had shaken Dean and thrown him
floor. She believed she had killed him so she wrapped his body in
stuff him inside of a suitcase and dumped his body into the pond where
his body was discovered by the children six days later. Four days
Rachel, who was on parole, was arrested and charged with murder.
father said that he had only been able to see his grandson three times
since he had been
about six weeks since he had last seen him he said:
the chance to cuddle him once, nor to hear him call me poppy"
the way Rachel had behaved was odd, though none of them suspected she
kill her child:
quiet; we saw him once or twice, but never with his mother when she
go to the
shops. She was always pushing the baby in the pram and had the little
with her. My
was obsessive. He woke up one night and was so hungry he ate a whole
to do with them. Most times it was through the little girl, when she
go around to
houses with a note asking for cigarettes. Other times she would be
on her own
on her bike. We had not seen anyone at the house since last Sunday.
came to my house asking questions, that's when we realized. I'm still
Greene, a Community
Services Minister, defended the way the case was handled. He said that
several calls made to their helping did not indicated that there was a
threat against the life of Dean:
to the Department of Community Service, DOCS help line that in some way
I'm clearly advised by the director general of DOCS, that none of these
be assessed that the child's life was in danger. "I'm not minimizing
of this case. I'm not suggesting these reports were unimportant"
to mourn for Dan and the Reverend David Cole from the Rosemeadow
Church said that he would leave a service for Dean with three simple
the family who's grieving, so Dean's family, simply that they will find
the courage and the
face the future without Dean. We are going to pray for the community,
from this point on. And then, just for Dean himself, we are going to
with mercy and kindness"
father, Paul Shillingsworth, was in jail at the time of his death, for
breaking parole on a bodily harm sentence. Paul had applied for a
so that he could attend the funeral of his son. Beverly says that Paul
was a violent man and that there had been instances of domestic
in the relationship between Rachel and Paul.
he was a talented, traditional dancer in a troupe that included several
of his brothers and they had performed at many events including the
of the Mount Druitt Medical Center. They did not see the violent man
Beverly saw. Both sides of the family did agree that Dean was a bright,
lively little boy. Beverly said that his favorite words were food and
I loved him. I was very, very close to him. He was a normal
The terrible twos.
In a Biskit. I used to go over there every Sunday. I would take enough
for all the kids
managed to find a box himself. He was very smart."
said that his nephew loved his toy motorcycle, jumping castle and
on the trampoline:
everything, he got what he wanted"
Paul was let
out of jail, Rachel's family was disgusted at the way he was treated,
a hero. Paul had been in jail on charges of sexual assault, against
A family member spoke out:
to his release from jail last week, she had been terrified for her
It had been made
Shillingsworth would be coming back the moment he was out.
same family member
said that they were unable to attend the memorial service held for
due to threats made against them. Detective Superintendent, Geoff
said that they were making rounds, patrolling and that there has been a
bad history between the two families of Dean.
Rachel's mother, Beverly, said
that she had
called the DOCS to get some help for her to raise Dean properly, she
she was told that there were not enough resources to help her daughter.
Beverly said she had been having trouble bonding with Dean because he
been living with his grandmother, Ann Coffey, who had custody of him
the last year:
"What can we do about it? We
haven't got the
kind of resources for that"
Rachel had visited the DOCS office
earlier in the
year and was asking for help and advice on how she could regain custody
of her son. With no help available, Rachel decided to just keep Dean
a scheduled visit on June 7. From the start, Rachel had trouble raising
him. Dean's grandfather, Edmund Capan said that at least three checks
made concerning Dean, in the month of July after they contacted police
to say that Rachel had not returned him from her visit. Edmund told
police that he was concerned for Dean's
"We knew she couldn't handle
Edmund also said that something more
been done to help his grandson:
"They DOCS should have done
could have went out there and could have helped
in some way"
Beverly disagreed with what Edmund
"I wouldn't say she wasn't
coping, she was
struggling. She was able to cook meals for them every night.
She fed them and clothed them."
Kevin Greene said that action was
taken, though he
wouldn't say what type of action it was:
"DOCS did receive a call to its
help line and
the call was assessed and there was some action taken.
Sadly, there is no perfect child
system in the world but we want to do the best we can to
continue to improve the child
On October 29, 2008, Rachel was in
court where she
said that she thought Dean was dead when she stuck him into the
and put it into the pond. Belinda Rigg, Rachel's attorney asked Diane
the Forensic Pathologist if his death happened the way his mother said
it had and then she told Rachel's account of what happened. Rachel
while she listened to her attorney say that she had shaken her son,
him to the ground and he had wet himself, become
unresponsive, made gurgling sounds and
coming from his mouth. Belinda then said that Dean's hand had frozen
a claw and when she checked, Rachel thought he had no heartbeat. Rachel
then attempted to do CPR on Dean.
Diane Little said there was a
possibility that Dean
had been alive when he was stuffed into the suitcase, however, since he
had been dead for at least a week, his body was badly decomposed and
actual cause of his death could not be determined. Diane also said that
a lack of bleeding in his brain suggests that he had not been shaken to
death. She said that he could possibly have suffocated.
"Is one of the possibilities in
as you see it, that death could have been caused by the placing of the
child, who appeared to be deceased but wasn't, into the plastic bag and
then into the suitcase"
"If he was completely
unconscious but not yet
that's a possibility"
Edmund Caban was outside the
courtroom and said that
he and his family were relieved that this case was finally going to go
to trial. He also said they were all looking forward to the truth
"That's the one thing I hope
Edmund said that it had been a long,
for him and his family:
"but, we are getting
Rachel did not enter a plea and was
bail for trail. Her trial date was set for December 5, 2008 where she
face the NSW Supreme Court.
Rachel was in court on December 12,
appeared in court though a video, instead of in person and only
questions, such as "Can you see'' with a short "Yep", from the
prison for women. Ugo Parente, her attorney was pleading for compassion
for his client. Dean's fathers family was pleading for justice:
"I just ask that she be shown a
bit of compassion
at this time. It is a sensitive matter and it has to be
dealt with fairly"
"We just want justice for
Rita Wright - Dean's Aunt
Rachel is held in a protection cell
in the Silverwater
Woman's prison, at her own request. She contacts her mother on a
basis. Paul Shillingsworth is also in prison, once again, after being
on parole that was revoked after new charges were filed against him.
was due to appear in court, once again through video link, on February
Dean Shillingsworth mum pleads
guilty to murder
August 18, 2009 10:13am
A WOMAN has pleaded guilty to the
murder of her two-year-old
son, whose body was found in a suitcase dumped in a Sydney pond.
Rachel Pfitzner, 27, pleaded guilty
today in the
NSW Supreme Court to the murder of Dean Shillingsworth on October 11,
His body was found in a suitcase
pulled from a duck
pond at Ambarvale, in Sydney's south-west.
In June, Pfitzner had pleaded guilty
to the lesser
charge of manslaughter.
But the Crown representative then
told the judge
he was not in a position to say whether that plea would be accepted.
When the murder charge was read out
admitted the more serious offense.
Crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC
told Justice Robert
Allan Hulme a statement of agreed facts would be forwarded to him
the sentencing hearing.
That hearing has been listed for
Thank you to Emma for alerting me
to this update.
I am so glad that so many people are willing to help me keep these
up to date with the latest news about the cases of these children.
Body-in-suitcase mum loses
December 16, 2010
The body of two-year-old Dean
found in a suitcase in a duck pond in Sydney.
A Sydney woman who murdered her
and stuffed his body in a suitcase has lost an appeal against her jail
In December 2009 Rachael Pfitzner was
at least 19 years after pleading guilty to murdering her son Dean
The todder's body was found floating
in a suitcase
in a duck pond at Ambarvale in Sydney's south west.
When she was sentenced, the New South
Court heard that Rachel Pfitzner first choked the child and that she
and punished him.
Today a three-judge panel has
dismissed an appeal
against her sentence.
The judges ruled that although it is
severe, it is
An ombudsman's investigation into the
found the Department of Community Services failed to protect the boy
though it had been warned that he was at risk.
Thank you to Ashleigh for this