A SMALL white dog yaps, a high chair sits next to a dining table, chests of draws and pieces of plastic outdoor furniture at the back of the house currently being examined by police in relation to the disappearance of Granville schoolgirl Quanne Diec almost 20 years ago.

In the carport opening on to the laneway, large stacks of plastic chairs could be seen, along with boxes, stacks of wood, assorted household detritus and a small child’s bike.

While the backyard was mowed, the sides of the house are overgrown and the paint is faded.

Neighbours say the elderly man who occupies the house with his adult son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren had been there for more than 50 years and raised three sons at the modest home with his wife, who is believed to have died in the late 1990s.

The youngest son, now in his early 40s, still lives at the home with his wife and young son and daughter.

The oldest son, believed to be in his late 50s, has rarely been seen at the home while neighbours say the middle son, who is the one understood to have been charged with murder, moved out some time in the mid 1980s.

That man, 49-year-old Vincent Tarantino, faced Central Local Court today after being arrested on Sunday over the murder of Quanne.

He did not apply for bail and will return to Parramatta Local Court on January 19 charged with murder, detaining for advantage and possession of a knife.

“We grew up together and it was all normal growing up,” said Peter Youseff, who has lived opposite the house his whole life.

He said he and the younger son were still close and the man had been a groomsman at Mr Youssef’s wedding.

He said he had spoken to him just after police arrived this morning but that his friend couldn’t tell him anything, other than that the police presence had something to do with his older brother.

“He said it’s my brother but I can’t say anything and then he hung up,” Mr Youssef said.

Mr Youssef said that brother had been a tall man who worked out at the gym and was always quite large, working a range of security jobs in Kings Cross throughout the 1990s.

He said the quiet Granville street was occupied by people who had been there for decades, and whose children then bought into the street as adults, as Mr Youssef had, to be close to their families.

Mr Youssef said news of the police search and the arrest had shocked him.

“For us it was a massive shock, because we were all just right here (when Quanne disappeared),” he said, pointing down the end of the street to the postal sorting facility outside of which Quanne is believed to have been abducted.

Older neighbours stood on the footpath, watching the police search in disbelief. Most have lived in the street for decades.

“We’ve known them all their lives and there’s never been trouble, they are a good family,” one man said shaking his head.

He said he was now 50 and was born on the street and that the family had been present longer than he had been alive.

Relative newcomer Khadesa Hassan, who has only lived on the street a few months but grew up in Granville, said the news had come as a shock as she remembered Quanne’s disappearance from when she had been a child herself.

“I just woke up and there were helicopters everywhere then I poked my head out the window and there were cops everywhere, it was a shock because I remember that girl,” she said.

Quanne left her family’s Granville home on Monday, July 27, 1998, to go to the Clyde train station on her way to school but never arrived.

Early on in the investigation, Quanne was feared to have been abducted but 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.

Her Vietnamese family refused to give up hope for Quanne, with then-premier Bob Carr offering a $200,000 reward for information leading to the location of the schoolgirl.

During the investigation Detective Inspector Brad Cox said police had hypnotised witnesses, set up mannequins, and drained and searched a nearby waterway, Duck Creek, but failed to come up with answers.

The Diec family, who has searched for years for the schoolgirl, has been told of the man’s arrest.