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Grim search near Quanne Diec's home

AAP logoAAP 20/11/2016 Toby Mann and Sophie Tarr

A 12-year-old schoolgirl missing for more than 18 years was allegedly plucked off a western Sydney street and murdered by a man who intended to hold her for ransom.

Vinzent Tarantino was charged with Quanne Diec's murder on Sunday and in his brief appearance in Central Local Court on Monday, said his brother and partner have been killed "in retaliation for what I've done".

Quanne has not been seen since she left her home in Granville on the morning of Monday, July 27, 1998.

Court documents allege Tarantino, who has previously gone by the name Victor Gerada, "did entice away and detain Quanne Diec, with intent to hold her for ransom, and caused her a substantial injury".

At some point in the next 13 hours, it's alleged, Tarantino killed the girl.

The 49-year-old will remain in custody until he appears at Parramatta Local Court in January.

Across the city, a few streets from the Diec family home in Granville, police searched a single-storey weatherboard house as part of their bid to "bring Quanne home to her mum and dad and put her to rest".

Investigators clad in blue forensic jumpsuits spent several hours at a property on Second Street in Granville which is believed to be the Gerada family home.

Neighbour Peter Youssef, who described himself as a close family friend of the youngest Gerada son, told AAP the man he knew as Victor Gerada was a former Kings Cross security guard who had moved out of the home at a young age.

"I've never known him to live in that house, but he's come to see his parents. Since we were young he's been out of the house," Mr Youssef said.

He said Quanne's disappearance all those years ago had shaken the neighbourhood.

"I remember the whole area was like in shock," he said.

"Police knocking at everyone's house and asking where were you, did you see anything? And you've got to understand it's a tiny community so when something happened like that everyone was in shock."

On the day she disappeared, Quanne was heading for Clyde train station on her way to Strathfield Girls High School but never arrived.

Her disappearance was not reported to police for about 10 hours because the school believed she was probably sick at home, while her family thought she was at school.

The Diec family, who searched for years for their missing daughter, has been told of the arrest but had asked for privacy, Superintendent Scott Whyte told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

Five blocks away from the crime scene, several bouquets of flowers were placed in front of the Diec home.

Tarantino has been "a person of interest in this investigation for 18 years," Supt Whyte said.

He would not comment on whether he was stalking the schoolgirl.

He said Tarantino was not known to the family but the murder was not random.

During the initial investigation, Detective Inspector Brad Cox said police had hypnotised witnesses, set up mannequins, and drained and searched a nearby waterway.

Then premier Bob Carr offered a $200,000 reward for information leading to the location of the schoolgirl, who would now be 30.

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