Details have emerged about the horror killing of a young water polo coach who was found dead in a bathroom in an elite school.
Lilie James, 21, was found dead at St Andrew’s Cathedral School on Kent Street, in the CBD, just before midnight on Wednesday.
Police are now believed to be on the hunt for Paul Thijssen, a colleague and Facebook friend of Ms James.
The pair reportedly dated for five weeks but had recently split up with Ms James ending the relationship, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Mr Thijssen worked as a sports coach and assistant at St Andrew’s.
He had been a sports captain as a student at the prestigious school, graduating in 2017.
Emergency services had gone to the school after Ms James’ family alerted police as she hadn’t returned home.
Upon arrival police found her body in a bathroom in the gym area of the school.
“As you can probably imagine, it’s an extremely daunting experience, a very sad time for everybody. Not only the families, the students also who are turning up today to be confronted by this,” Detective Superintendent Martin Fileman said on Thursday.
A second crime scene has been established near The Gap at Vaucluse, where police are searching for Mr Thijssen.
Superintendent Fileman said they were investigating whether Mr Thijssen had killed himself after disappearing in the Vaucluse area.
Who was Lilie James?
Lilie James was a student at University of Technology Sydney having graduated from Danebank Anglican School for Girls in 2020.
She excelled at drama and sport, with her mother Peta sharing numerous Facebook photos celebrating her achievements which included winning an u-17 swimming tournament in 2019.
Lilie grew up in the south of Sydney and had one brother, Max.
Mystery item found
Early on Thursday investigators also found “an item linked to the homicide” in the Vaucluse area, Superintendent Fileman confirmed.
There is no indication of a history of domestic violence between the two people, Mr Fileman said before confirming staff members had been called in the early hours of Thursday after the “extremely daunting experience” for detectives who arrived at the scene.
The school will be closed on Thursday and Friday, with a message to parents assuring them no students were involved in the incident.
Police were seen at the school carrying evidence bags.
“St Andrew’s Cathedral School remains closed today to all students except those sitting Year 12 exams, as the school continues to work with Police following an onsite death overnight,” a spokesperson from the school said.
“No students were involved and there is no ongoing threat.”
“An area of the school, not accessible to students, is a crime zone, and we await the approval of Police before bringing everyone back on site,” the school statement continues.
“The only students onsite are those sitting exams, and we ask that the media does not seek to interrupt their concentration or state of mind as they sit exams that are significant for their graduation.”
“The school has brought our school counsellors onsite for professional support for parents and students as required – and again we ask that the media respects the emotional situation of those seeking support.”
St Andrew’s Cathedral is a private day school for children from Kindergarten to Year 12.
The Anglican school charges tuition fees up to $36,770 a year.
More than 1400 students attend the school, which was founded in 1885 as a choir school for nearby St Andrew’s Cathedral.
It is ranked 157th in NSW in the 2022 HSC, with 660 exams sat by year 12 students and 72 distinguished achievements awarded.
According to The Daily Telegraph, parents were told of the incident via text.
“Year 12 exams will be held in BBC as normal. Year 5 camp will continue as normal.
A further text message said: “Update: No students were involved in the incident.
“Police are currently investigating and we will keep you updated,” the text told parents.
Police are continuing to liaise with school officials.
Anyone with information which could help the investigation is urged to call police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.