Two Crime Stoppers calls led to the identification of the remains of a young mother and her toddler daughter who had been missing for more than 6 years.

Critical information from the 1,267th and 1,271st callers to Crime Stoppers provided the key breakthroughs in the sensational case, which has attracted national public attention.

The 1,267th caller’s tip helped identify the remains of toddler Khandalyce Pearce, which were found last July near a suitcase along a highway in South Australia’s Murray Mallee.

A couple of days and four calls later about the case, a person connected Khandalyce with the mystery remains of a woman discovered in the notorious Belanglo Forest in NSW.

This crucial information led to the arrest of Daniel James Holdom, 41, who was charged with the murders of mother Karlie Pearce Stevenson and her 2-year-old daughter Khandalyce on 20 December 2008 in NSW.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray from SA Police described the investigation as like searching for a needle in a haystack, “but we didn’t know what the haystack was”.

He said police had dealt with a “tremendous” amount of information as they worked to identify the child, including up to 600 enquiries, 180 children put forward as potential victims, and 1,300 calls to Crime Stoppers — of which two helped solve the puzzle.

Mr Bray said the 1,271st caller provided a photograph showing Khandalyce in a stroller with an identifiable quilt tucked behind her head – the same quilt found in the suitcase near her remains.

He praised the people whose calls to Crime Stoppers led to the breakthrough.

“They’re good people and they’ve done what I think all of you would do. They rang Crime Stoppers because it kept niggling at them and we’re grateful they did,” he said.

Holdom has been refused bail by Parramatta Local Court and the matter adjourned until January 28 at the Central Law Courts in Sydney.