When She Fell In Love With Her Adoptive Family’s Son, Things Went South

The insane case of Tiahleigh Palmer

Tiahleigh Palmer as a teenager (left) and (Right) Friends and family carrying her coffin — Image from Wikimedia Commons 

Palmer’s mother, Cyndi, had placed her in foster care around seven years old. Cyndi was stuck in an abusive relationship. Hence, she wanted what was best for her daughter and a safe environment for her to grow up in.

But, soon after Cyndi gave her daughter away, everything went downhill. She started doing drugs and became homeless.

So Palmer had to stay in the foster system for five years. She was twelve when she began to stay with a family known as the Thorburns. The family consisted of the parents, Rick and Julene, and two teenage sons, Trent (18 y/o) and Joshua (19 y/o).

The family lived in a rural setting with horses and a country-style type of living. The Thorburns were a very respected family amongst the community.

Cyndi was against the idea of her daughter living with two teenage boys. And, the fact that Rick, the father, was a former gang member made the situation worse. Nonetheless, Palmer went on to live with the Thorburns.

And that’s when Palmer’s behavior started changing

Palmer constantly ran away from the Thorburn home and never wanted to be alone with Rick. She started dressing differently. For instance, she wore padded bras and some inappropriate clothes. Palmer also got obsessed with makeup.

Nine Months Later

On October 30th, 2015, Rick dropped Palmer at school at around 8 am in the morning. Then he stopped at a car shop to pick up some spare parts before heading back home. But around noon, Palmer’s school called the Thorburns to notify them of Palmer’s absence that day.

And Palmer went missing for the next few days. Rick even posted all over Facebook looking for her because he was worried. The authorities also started looking for Palmer.

On November 5th, 2015, two fishermen found Palmer’s remains on the banks of a river called Pimpama. The body was severely decomposed to the extent that the fishermen couldn’t tell whether it was male or female. It was hard to determine the cause of Palmer’s death due to how badly her body had decomposed. Palmer’s funeral took place a few days later.

But one question remained unanswered. What happened to the little girl?

The Investigation on What Happened

The authorities focused their attention on the Thorburns. Rick was questioned first. Then the rest of the Thorburns, plus over 300 known sex offenders in the area. The police had no leads, suspects, or evidence for months after the murder.

A tip-off came in May 2016 about an incident that had happened in the Thorburns family home prior to Palmer’s disappearance. The night before Palmer disappeared, the Thorburns held a family meeting. And the 18-year-old son, Trent, admitted that he was sleeping with Palmer.

Palmer had told her grandmother that she didn’t want to move back in with her biological mother because she had a crush on Trent. And Palmer had also told a friend that whenever their parents went out, she had sex with Trent. Apparently, Palmer complained of experiencing stomach cramps before she disappeared. Allegedly, the Thorburns were scared she was pregnant.

There were also rumors that Rick was assaulting young children at his wife’s daycare.

The authorities managed to attain a search warrant for the Thorburn home.

It was discovered that on the night of October 29th, Rick told his wife that Palmer had been taken care of. Rick later informed the family, “Palmer is no longer with us. I hope you know what that means.” Later that night, Rick dumped Palmer’s body at the Pimpama River.

The Sentencing of the Thorburns Family

In 2017, Joshua was sentenced to 15 months behind bars, and Julene was sentenced to 18 months. In September of that year, Trent was sentenced to 4 years behind bars, and he served 16 months of his sentence in jail. And lastly, in May 2018, Rick was sentenced to life behind bars without the possibility of parole.

This case took place in a small town called Logan City in Queensland, Australia.

Story sources: Tiahleigh Palmer’s case, Wikipedia, ABC news