NOT MANY knew the families involved in the Scarsdale tragedy that unfolded early Saturday morning.
Most say the girls who are believed to be renting the house where a 14-year-old boy was allegedly bashed to death, were new to the area.
Word spread quickly, by those driving past the scene or by catching the morning news on the radio.
The 150-year-old township was rocked by today's news that drew a large police contingent, including the homicide squad from Melbourne, and a hungry media pack.
This was three days after Scarsdale featured on front page of
The Courier as a town fighting to stay alive under threat of re-classification for too small a population.
Long-time resident Betty Ladgrove, who has lived in the township for 34 years, said there had never been anything like this while she has lived in Scarsdale.
Ms Ladgrove, aged in her 80s, took a morning walk along the Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail and said police were about before 7am, and greeted her on her journey.
She was shocked to later learn why they were in the area.
Ms Ladgrove said there were a lot of new houses in the region as more commuters sought a rural setting, close to Ballarat.
But most faces about the shops were familiar and said hello.
Scarsdale General Store owner Belinda Lee said the most excitement the town usually got was passing fire trucks - when most people came out on the streets for a quick look.
"We've never seen anything like this in town," Ms Lee said.
"It's really, really shocking.
"If it happened in Ballarat you might believe it, Melbourne definitely, but not here, not in rural towns.
Ms Lee said local police knew townspeople well and had a good feel for what was going on - this was just a shock.
Rumours started swirling early in the day - most coming to Ms Lee for clarification, others congregating in the nearby Scarsdale pub - but Ms Lee said the underlying theme was no-one knew for sure about "the poor kid" or his family.