A man has been charged with murder after a 9-year-old girl who was reported missing last week was found dead in a barrel in Australian bushland.

The 31-year-old suspect, Justin Laurens Stein, was arrested in the Surry Hills suburb of Sydney after the corpse of the 9-year-old victim, who was reportedly abducted from the village of Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains last week, was discovered inside a barrel abandoned in the bushland of Australia, the Guardian reported.

The girl, who was reported missing on Friday, Jan. 14, had been holidaying with her family at Wildenstein Private Gardens in Mount Wilson west of Sydney before her sudden disappearance. After the minor was reported missing, the authorities conducted a five-day search involving homicide detectives, dog units, and police divers. The young girl's body was finally discovered earlier this week.

Even though the remains have yet to be formally identified, New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb said that the barrel "contains human remains that are consistent with the missing nine-year-old."

The barrel, along with the victim's body, has been recovered by the authorities and transported to the city morgue for further examination and identification, BBC reported.

“We’ve had over 200 investigators from state crime command assisting north-west region detectives on the investigative side of this. That has been quite a laborious task in analyzing GPS data, analyzing CCTV footage, and leading us to search the location we searched last night.” Deputy NSW Police Commissioner David Hudson said.

Meanwhile, Stein was arrested in Surry Hills on Tuesday night, Jan. 18, and charged with the murder of the 9-year-old toddler.

According to the deputy commissioner, Stein drew police suspicion after purchasing several 20-kilogram sandbags from a hardware store. He subsequently tried to fuel a boat and then tried to float the water vehicle at one of the docks in inner Sydney. Stein’s attempt, however, proved unsuccessful. The police allegedly later tracked the accused back to the location where the barrel and the girl's remains were found.

Deputy Commission Hudson stated that the officers are still uncertain of what exactly happened to the victim after her disappearance and that they are waiting for the autopsy results to gain more insight into the incident.

"What we are sure of is that the accused that we charged with murder was responsible for, firstly, placing her in the barrel, and then disposing of that barrel in the bushland where she was located," Hudson added.

The accused appeared via video link in Sydney’s central local court on Wednesday, Jan. 19, where his lawyer said that Stein had been under long-term care for “mental health problems” and had been prescribed a fairly high dose of antipsychotic drugs quetiapine and risperidone for many years.

Stein was refused bail and his next hearing is scheduled to be held on March 18 in Penrith.

A man has been charged with murder after a 9-year-old girl who was reported missing last week was found dead in a barrel in Australian bushland. This is a representational image. Pixabay

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