A 16-year-old boy has been charged with murder and four other boys have been arrested after a 70-year-old woman was fatally stabbed outside a Queensland shopping centre.
Three 16-year-olds and two 15-year-olds have now been arrested and charged in relation to the death and carjacking of Vyleen White.
Ms White had been shopping with her six-year-old granddaughter at Redbank Plains Town Square Shopping Centre, west of Brisbane, when she was stabbed in the chest in the centre’s car park on Saturday night.
A 15-year-old boy first handed himself into police on Monday and was charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle in relation to Ms White’s allegedly stolen blue Hyundai Getz.
One 16-year-old has now been charged with murder and stealing offences. He will face the Ipswich Children’s Court on Tuesday.
The remaining teenagers have been charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle.
Vyleen White is pictured celebrating her 70th birthday at her family home last June, eight months before her tragic death
CCTV footage shows youths at the shopping centre shortly before 5pm on Saturday- an hour before Vyleen White died
Ms White died at the scene, while her granddaughter, who watched the horror unfold, was unharmed.
Detectives had earlier released CCTV footage of four youths in a Hyundai Getz, allegedly stolen from Ms White.
‘Sadly the motive was to steal a Hyundai Getz,’ Queensland Police Detective Acting Superintendent Heath McQueen said of the fatal stabbing.
‘I stand before you today talking to you about a murder of a grandmother in front of a six-year-old … and the result was a stolen Hyundai Getz – that is the motive.’
He described it as a ‘callous, cowardly, violent crime’.
‘She was a loving, family woman,’ he said.
‘She was taking her granddaughter to the shops. This is senseless violence.’
Pictured: Vyleen White’s husband Victor with their daughter, Cindy, on Monday afternoon
Vyleen White’s family is devastated over the tragedy on Saturday. Her husband Victor is pictured, second left, with his daughter Cindy and three of her grandchildren
The South Sudanese Community Association of Queensland issued a statement condemning the ‘unfortunate and shocking’ incident and called for calm on Monday night.
‘SSCAQ Leadership in the strongest terms possible condemns the homicide committed,’ a statement read.
‘The incident is an isolated and the action of individual/s DO NOT represent the South Sudanese as a community and as people.
‘The leadership urge the victims family to discourage any individuals who may capitalise on the unfortunate and shocking incident which occurred over the weekend.’
Ms White’s husband of almost 50 years, Victor, who is blind and relied heavily on her for support, broke his silence to Daily Mail Australia on Monday afternoon.
He revealed his wife used to say, jokingly: ‘If I go, no one is going to miss me.’
‘If only she knew what was going on now,’ he said, referencing the deluge of love and support his family has received in the wake of his wife’s tragic death.
The grieving widower issued a demand for justice while speaking to A Current Affair.
‘When this particular animal stabbed my wife he stabbed four of us in the heart,’ he said.
‘He didn’t just kill her, he killed four of us with her.
‘Justice has to be done, not for my sake, for the memory of Vyleen.’
One of their three daughters, Julie Ryan, struggled to understand how anyone could hurt her mother, particularly because she co-operated when confronted by the alleged attacker.
‘She was a small, frail woman,’ Ms Ryan said.
‘She handed over the keys. They didn’t take her bag, wallet, nothing, so why did they need to [allegedly] kill her?’
Ms Ryan’s young daughter was with Ms White at the time of the alleged attack.
Resident Sarah Stanley wrote in an online petition calling for more security at the shopping centre that the little girl begged bystanders to save her grandmother.
‘I was in that car park and I had my grandchild with me,’ Ms Stanley wrote. ‘This attack was disgusting, that poor little girl screaming ”my grandma” not fully understanding what had just happened.
‘It’s disgusting and cowardice. This community has had enough and it’s time we fight back. My deepest condolences to all family and friends of this beautiful lady. We will not let this be in vain.’
In a cruel twist of fate, she said her mother had only recently returned to the road after being unable to drive due to arthritis in her shoulders.
Her journey to the shops on Saturday was the fourth time she had been back behind the wheel in weeks.
Ms White’s grandson, Joseph, said: ‘She would have asked her [alleged] attacker: ”What do you need? Can I pray for you?”
Her family remembered her as a loving mother who would go above and beyond to make people feel special.
Ms Ryan said she was blown away when, for her most recent birthday, her mother presented her with a milkshake glass with Hawaiian motifs that matched the Hawaiian-themed party thrown for her.
‘It just meant so much that she just went that far to find that thing because that was such a milestone birthday,’ Ms Ryan said.
‘And that’s who she was – she’d just do stuff to go the extra mile.’
Husband Victor said they met while working together at a broom factory in the 1970s.
They got married and raised three daughters, Cindy, Danice and Julie.
The couple were due to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in September.
Ms Ryan, her partner, and their six-year-old daughter have been living with her parents while trying to save for their own home.
Shattered locals paid tribute to Ms White at the shopping centre on Monday
During that time, Ms White and her six-year-old granddaughter built a special bond – eating breakfast together, having play dates, visiting neighbours, and spending time drawing.
Ms Ryan said one of the hardest parts of the tragedy was that her daughter had lost her ‘best friend’.
‘And now she’s going to miss out on all of that,’ she said.
‘And she had to witness everything. How do you help your kid get through that?’
While the family welcomed news of the arrests, they are nervous Ms White will not get the justice she deserves.
They are calling on the government to act by imposing tougher deterrents and penalties for youth offenders.
‘It doesn’t matter what age you are. If you kill someone, you should pay the ultimate price,’ Mr White said.
The family hope Ms White will not be remembered for her death, but for the impact she had on those around her.
Her daughter Cindy Micallef said she hopes the community will honour her mother’s legacy by continuing the kindness she spread during her life.
‘You don’t know when someone’s having a bad day,’ she said.
‘A kind word could make their day.’
The family are beginning to plan for Ms White’s funeral.