True Crime

The Death Of A Child: The Murder Of Dean Shillingsworth

Dean Shillingsworth

October 17 2007. Children were playing at a reserve in Macarthur, near an Ambarvale pond, when they found a suitcase floating in the water. Pulling it out, nothing could prepare them for what they found. Inside was the body of a young boy no longer than two years old. This child was later identified as Dean Shillingsworth. He had been murdered by none other than his mother, Rachel Pfitzner, six days earlier on October 11.

According to his mother, she had flown into a fit of rage when Dean kept demanding her attention. She had shaken him before throwing him to the ground. Panicked, she wrapped him in two plastic bags and placed the body into a suitcase before taking it, via a pram, to a nearby Ambarvale pond and dumping it.

The Investigation

During the investigation into Dean Shillingsworth’s death, it was discovered that his mother was supposed to have returned him to his paternal family in July 2007 but didn’t. It was also revealed that Dean’s cause of death was asphyxiation, and his body was decomposed due to how much time his body had spent in the water.

It was also revealed that Rachel Pfitzner had had a difficult upbringing. She had limited education and had violent tendencies in her youth, as she had stabbed a girl with a pencil. According to The West newspaper, Pfitzner had also punched another girl, giving her a black eye and a broken nose. She also would punish her son as he reminded her of his father, Paul Shillingsworth Jr, who was jailed when their son was a year old. The child’s paternal grandmother was caring for him before he was handed back to his mother.

Rachel Pfitzner Lies About The Whereabouts Of Dean Shillingsworth

Pfitzner lied to the police when they spoke to her when she claimed her son was in the custody of DOCS. It became apparent very quickly that that was not the case, and she was arrested for her son’s murder. She had also lied to friends and family about his whereabouts. She was initially charged with manslaughter before she pleaded guilty to Dean’s murder. Furthermore, she was sentenced to 25 and a half years in prison in 2009, about eighteen months after his demise.

Dean Shillingsworth was almost three years old when his uncaring mother dumped him in that Ambarvale pond. His body was returned to his paternal family, where he was buried at a funeral in his hometown of Brewarrina, surrounded by 2000 people from his family, friends and the community.

Finally, a smoking ceremony was to honour Dean, an Aboriginal Australian. In the year she was jailed for Dean Shillingsworth’s murder, Rachel Pfitzner got into a prison fight with another child killer, who had starved a little girl to death.

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About Author

C.J. Hawkings has written for the now-defunct Entertainment website, Movie Pilot and the still functioning WhatCulture and ScreenRant. She prides herself as a truth seeker and will do (almost) anything for coffee or Coke No Sugar. Oh! And food!

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