Zoe Buttigieg was allegedly brutally raped and murdered, after her mother had invited friends over for an all-night alcohol and drug-fuelled party.


Update 11 November

Zoe’s mother, Janelle Saunders’ victim impact statement was read out in the Wangaratta Supreme Court on Thursday – the same day as Bowe Maddigan, 30, faced a pre-sentencing hearing after he pleaded guilty to murdering and indecently assaulting her daughter.

She had gone to check on her daughter – whom she thought was sleeping – a third time on October 25, 2015 before she walked up to her bed and poked Zoe in the back as she repeated her name, reports Daily Mail.

‘When I pulled the doona back from her head and turned her face towards me her eyes were closed and she was still,’ the heartbroken mother said in the statement.

‘I didn’t know what to think, but I knew something was wrong.

‘My heart was pounding in my ears. Then I pulled the doona back and Zoe was naked from the waist down.’

Janelle explained, ‘In the morning I poked my head into Zoe’s room and she was still sound asleep in her top bunk… so I decided to let her sleep,’ she said.

‘I checked again later… and was struck by how the room smelt different.

‘Zoe was still asleep, so I let her stay, but something just didn’t feel right, so I went back up to her bedroom.’

After ‘a couple’ of attempts of trying to wake her daughter, Ms Saunders called an ambulance.

‘I started to vomit and I felt like I was spinning completely out of control,’ she said.

‘It seemed like an age before the ambulance came and I was getting more and more agitated. Then I started screaming, because I didn’t know what was wrong with Zoe.’

‘Zoe was dead. She was dead. I heard someone’s screams and wails and then I realised it was me. Zoe was dead. Zoe was dead. My Zoe was dead.

‘I wanted my mother, but I also wanted to go in the ambulance with Zoe. They wouldn’t let me go with her, so I screamed and screamed for my mother until someone was able to get through to her and told her to come.’

Her statement described the crowd at Zoe’s funeral overflowing outside the church.

‘I can’t remember very much about that day. Apart from the aching, endless grief of losing Zoe, the grief over the senseless way that she died just made me lose my mind for a while.

‘I was allowed to attend Zoe’s funeral as an in-patient of a mental health clinic.

‘I went back to the clinic barely remembering anything of the funeral and ended up being there for two weeks. All I could think about was that I’d never see Zoe again.

‘I just kept thinking and saying, “I just want her back, I just want her back”. She was never coming back, but it was all my mind could think about.’

‘I just cannot come to terms with the fact that a total stranger was brought to my house one night and murdered my beautiful Zoe in her own bed, in her own room, in her own house.

‘I have no comprehension of how a person could have such vileness and utter contempt for life that it could let them commit such a monstrous crime. I will grieve forever for Zoe and for the life that she wasn’t able to live.’

We shared previously on 10 November that,

Bowe Evan Levi Maddigan, 30, is facing a plea hearing after admitting to committing an indecent act with a child under 16 and then murdering 11-year-old Zoe Buttigieg.

Maddigan attacked Zoe in the bedroom of her Wangaratta home after being invited over for drinks by the girl’s mother, Janelle Saunders, and her partner.

After a night of drinking and smoking cannabis, in the early hours of October 25, 2015, Maddigan went into Zoe’s bedroom and told her to come down from the top bunk of her bed, prosecutor John Champion told the court, reports 9 NEWS.

Maddigan then sexually assaulted her before strangling the child and putting her back in her bed.

Maddigan later told police he “wanted to have her all for myself” and that she “looked like an angel”, Mr Champion said.

At first, Maddigan denied murdering Zoe.

But he told police in an interview: “it was like a bad movie I can’t stop the button, I can’t pause the button, I can’t rewind the button”.

Previously we reported in August that, Bowe Maddigan pleaded guilty to the alleged murder and committing an indecent act on the 11-year-old girl in Melbourne’s Supreme Court, reports 7 News.

He had previously entered a not guilty plea to one count of murder and two counts of sexual assault at the Wangaratta Magistrates Court in May.

Zoe’s mother, Janelle Saunders, had invited friends over to the house for a party.

Ms Saunders told Wangaratta Magistrates Court that she met Mr Maddigan a week earlier through a mutual friend.

The 30-year-old Mildura man had only been released from prison a week prior to Zoe’s death.

Ms Saunders claimed she had been drinking bourbon and coke and smoking cannabis with her friends and Mr Maddigan for 12-hours straight on the morning Zoe was murdered.

The young girl was sleeping in the lounge room while the group partied.

After drinking, Ms Saunders went to bed about 7am on October 25 and woke four hours later to find her daughter’s lifeless body.

Zoe had been brutally raped and murdered.

Share your comments below.

Image via 7 NEWS

  • I think it’s a case of neglect if you have children in the house while people are drinking alcohol and taking drugs. These aren’t responsible adults whilst under the influence and responsible is what’s needed when looking after kids


  • My poor little Zoe RIP. What a horrific way to die – who would know what was going through her mind while this was happening to her. I don’t fully excuse Zoe’s mother, but it seems like another case of a prisoner being released from gaol when they were not rehabilitated, but knew enough to fool those on the parole board into thinking they were now alright. Such a pity


  • Thinking about how Zoe must heave felt this last day of her life, terrifying fear and fighting for her life….awful !!


  • This happened a street away from me. I never knew Zoe but I cried for her.


  • i remember hearing about this when it happened so sad. what a monster i hope he suffers horrendously in prison and is never let out again.


  • I have friends with young children who think it’s ok to drink and party with the kids in tow. They reckon they still know what they’re doing, they’re still in total control. I can’t see how and I think this article shows what kinds of things can happen when you’re off your face


  • What a horrific story !! May God bless those who loved Zoe and grieve her death.
    Hope the act of Bowe Maddigan will will be a heavy burden on his shoulders for the rest of his life.


  • I blame the mom in the fact that u get ppl especially ppl u don’t really know out if ur house before u go to bed with a child in ur house even if that means get them a cab get them out if ur house ur child is not safe with ppl u do t know or ppl who have been drinking and doing drugs now ur daughters dead cause ur poor judgement hopefully u have no other children


  • A tragic story,R.I.P Zoe.


  • I am sorry but the mother is not to blame for the rape and murder of her child. The evil twisted SOAB is. He is the one tesponsible for his actions he didnt have to rape and murder her but he did. The mothets drinking or smoking didnt rape and murder her child so stop the victim blaming and mum shaming and put the blame where it needs to be in the man who did this. As women we need to stand together against violence towards children and women by men and we cant do that if we mive the blame to the mum rather than the actual criminal who committed rhe crime. Why do we blame the mum when a child goes to a public bathroom alone and is assualted – ummm the mum didnt assualt her child. In this case the mum didnt rape and murder her child. Sick and tired of blame being put on the parents for something someone else has done. Even if she was sober and they party finished at 11pm and she went to bed and her child was raped and murdered would you still blame her – would you say she shouldnt have strange men in her house? FFS who has hine to parties where you are a feiend of a friend? It happens all the time you cant do a police check on everyone you encounter. You women annoy me. The mum has lost her daughter by the actions of a sick evil man have some goddamn sympathy and put the blame and your hate on the evil creature who actually did that to this poor little girl.


  • Poor Zoe. May she RIP.
    This is truelly shocking


  • It’s indeed devastating to read that her mother was drinking and taking drugs while her innocent little child was in the same house. Poor Zoe! :-(


  • I agree with Sam’s comments. This poor little girl was in a dangerous environment. No child should be placed in such danger.


  • What a tragic way for a little girl to live and die.


  • This makes me sick. If this low life of a mother could not give up her lifestyle of drugs and alcohol (i presume she had), she should have given up her daughter. That poor girl. I cannot imagine the pain and fear in her little body. Rip beautiful girl.
    Rot in hell to her mother …. and the mongrel that did it!!!!


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