Police are looking for Bhanu Kirkman. Picture: NSW Police
Police are looking for Bhanu Kirkman. Picture: NSW Police

Man arrested over new mum’s alleged murder

A MAN has been arrested in connection with the death of Wollongong mum Kristie Powell who was killed in her home next to her unharmed five-month old son last week.

Ms Powell, 39, was found dead in her Wollongong home, an hour south of Sydney, with severe head injuries on Thursday. The new mother's lifeless body was found by a friend just metres from her uninjured five-month-old son, Slater.

A day later, police said they were hoping to speak to Thirroul man Bhanu Kirkman in relation to the alleged murder. Kirkman, 29, was today arrested around 4pm in Maitland, about three hours north of the Bellambi home where Ms Powell died.

He has been taken to Maitland Police Station where he remains in custody, police said in a statement. No charges have been laid.

In a Facebook post in March, Ms Powell wrote that she was no longer going to answer private phone calls because of a a man who called himself "The Reaper".

She wrote that she had worked with the man two years ago but he became "obsessed".

"I have contacted the police about him on a few occasions but there is nothing that they can really do as he is considered non threatening!? Even tho (sic) most of his messages say 'Die Kristie Die' he doesn't approach me or my house, he just calls me or sends me msgs (sometimes I get over 100 a day!) But none of them make any sense!" she wrote.

"He calls himself the Reaper."

Kristie Powell was found dead inside her home last week. Picture: Facebook
Kristie Powell was found dead inside her home last week. Picture: Facebook

On one of his social media accounts, Kirkman, who police had been looking for since Friday, listed one of his other names as "Bhanu Lee Reaper Markel".

Over the weekend, police asked for assistance to find Kirkman.

"(Mr Kirkman) resides in the Wollongong/Thirroul area. We believe he is someone that really will help us with our inquiries thus far," Detective Inspector Ainsworth told reporters on Saturday.

"We reviewed some Facebook images and some commentary there. Yes, there is some disturbing commentary there.

"We know he was an acquaintance of the deceased and we think he can maybe shed some light on where we're going (with the investigation) … A former employee - I don't know for how long.

"His commentary in general was probably very strong, very disturbing on facets of many things - not just pointed at the deceased. His overall commentary wasn't great."

Police said they had never received a formal complaint from Ms Powell about the alleged stalking.

Police are looking for Bhanu Kirkman, who listed Bhanu Lee Reaper Markel as one of his other Facebook names. Picture: Facebook
Police are looking for Bhanu Kirkman, who listed Bhanu Lee Reaper Markel as one of his other Facebook names. Picture: Facebook

Friends of Ms Powell's have mourned the beloved dog foster carer on social media and remembered her as a "beautiful soul".

One of the Wollongong mum's friends Sheryl claimed Mr Kirkman had put Ms Powell "through hell for the last two years".

A GoFundMe page set up for Slater, Ms Powell's child, exceeded its $10,000 goal in less than a day. At the time of writing, the page had raised more than $15,500.

"To give him the life and all of the opportunities he deserves and that Kristie always wanted we felt it was fitting to raise some funds to hopefully make the next few weeks, months or years smoother," Kristy Corrigan wrote.

"So he can have new clothes when he needs, nutritious food, an abundance of books, good education and the best medical care available."

At the moment, Slater is staying with Ms Powell's brother Ryan, his wife Michelle and their children.

Yesterday, Michelle took to Facebook to post a photo of Slater sleeping, writing, "You are loved, you are safe, we are blessed."

Ms Powell had previously documented how she searched for 22 years for a partner to have children with, but gave up and decided to try for her "very own perfect little prince".

"So after 22 years of dating & meeting many many many suitors that didn't suit I'm excited to announce that I'm now making my very own perfect little prince who will love me & stay with me forever … (who) is due to join the world in a few months time," she wrote.

"I can't thank my beautiful family & friends enough for their ongoing loving & encouraging support! I wouldn't be able to do this without you!"

In May she expressed her joy at giving birth to a baby boy.

"Last night at 9.26pm I officially became a Mummy!" she wrote. "He is my perfect prince now & forever more. I can't wait for everyone to meet him. We are both doing very well & hope to be home ASAP," she posted.



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