Sunrise host Nat Barr has quizzed an international criminologist on why the killer of beloved Sydney teacher Lilie James would have texted her father the night she died.
Ms James, a 21-year-old staff member at Sydney’s St Andrew’s Cathedral School, was found with “serious head injuries” in the gym bathroom by police just after midnight on Wednesday.
It’s understood she had ended a five-week relationship with colleague Paul Thijssen, 24, before she was killed.
Mr Thijssen was seen leaving the gym on Wednesday and he had called police telling them where to find Ms James’s body.
His body was later recovered by police at Diamond Bay Reserve in Vaucluse.
Mr Thijssen is also reported to have used Ms James’s phone to text her father, Jamie, to come to the school to pick her up, pretending the message was from her.
It’s unclear whether the text was sent before Ms James died.
Following revelations about the text to Mr James, Ms Barr had an agonising question for internationally renowned criminologist Xanthe Mallett.
“‘Why do you think Paul Thijssen sent a message to Lilie James’s dad after he allegedly killed her,” she asked.
Dr Mallett told Sunrise on Tuesday that she believed Mr Thijssen texted Ms James’s father as a ruse to ensure her body was found.
“The only reason I can really think of that he would have sent that message was to get the father to attend the school,” Dr Mallett said.
“In essence, either he hoped the father would find Lilie or be there when the police found Lilie because he called them.
“He showed signs that he wanted Lilie to be found. I’m not sure exactly (at) what point Lilie died.
“That may indicate he was hoping someone would find her and call an ambulance, for example.
“Alternatively, he may have been wanting to potentially change the time at which the police thought she had died by sending those proof-of-life messages to her father and then later calling the police.”
Dr Mallet said she also held concern that if Ms James’s father had attended the school, he could have “potentially” been in danger had he come across Mr Thijssen.
“I’m not sure exactly when he (Thijssen) left the scene but he was there, he did have a weapon and obviously he did commit a very violent act, so anyone else attending that scene could have been in danger,” she said.
It comes as Ms James’s students plan to wear a black armband while playing Saturday sport in honour of their water polo coach.
The school is trying to return to normality after the students attended school on Monday for the first time since Ms James was killed last Wednesday.
The school will also honour Ms James by having a minute’s silence during each game played on Saturday.
In a school newsletter, deputy head Brad Swibel said students had been given access to 11 counsellors from neighbouring schools to help them with “an incredibly difficult day” on Monday.
Mr Swibel said the sports teams were also supported by head of school Julie McGonigle, who offered special words of comfort to those who were “particularly affected” by the death.
“It has been an incredibly difficult day for all of our school community, and I would like to thank the outpouring of love and support from you all. It is greatly appreciated,” Mr Swibel wrote.
“After the assembly, sports teams particularly affected by the tragedy gathered for words of comfort from Dr McGonigle and then an opportunity to be with each other as teams and to access the counselling station, of which dozens did.”
Grieving students and parents are invited to lay flowers at the memorial outside the school until Friday, when it will be moved to the Remembrance Garden at Kirikee, the newsletter stated.
Dr McGonigle wrote in the newsletter that the school was grateful for the love and support it had received from the community.
She said she was passing on those messages to Ms James’ parents.
“Please be assured that we are in contact with Mr and Mrs James, Lilie’s parents, and all of the messages are being passed to them,” she wrote.
The newsletter said while some school events had been cancelled, the school would try to “resume normal operations” from tomorrow.
The school will now resume its sporting activities, except for water polo training, which has been postponed until November 8.
The school will also hold morning prayer sessions daily for parents, students and staff, while Headspace will hold an online seminar on Thursday.
“Normal sport training (excluding water polo) will resume from tomorrow afternoon. Saturday games are planned to resume as normal,” the newsletter said.
“It is intended water polo will resume normal training Wednesday 8 November.
“On Saturday, teams will wear a black armband. Staff will provide these. We have requested of the ISA that each game be marked with a one-minute silence.”