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Twists in investigation into Karen Ristevski’s death

Karen Ristevski went missing in June last year.
Karen Ristevski went missing in June last year.

The first sign that Karen Ristevski's disappearance was no ordinary missing person's case came when her family dramatically cut short a press conference last year.

It was July 14 and her aunt Patricia Gray, flanked by Karen's husband Borce and their daughter Sarah, had made a tearful plea for information when a Channel Seven reporter dropped a bombshell question.

"Did you kill Karen, Borce?" the journalist asked.

Sarah, then 21, immediately burst into tears and Ms Gray shut down the press conference before the distressed trio walked out.

Over the next 18 months, Australians remained gripped by the case as it took a series of increasingly bizarre twists and turns, culminating in Mr Ristevski's arrest on Wednesday morning.

The 53-year-old was charged with one count of murder after detectives from Victoria's Missing Persons Squad picked him up in Keilor just before 7.30am.

He did not apply for bail and was remanded in custody after a four-minute hearing at which his lawyer, Rob Stary, made it clear his client would be entering a not guilty plea.

Mr Ristevski has strenuously denied any involvement in the murder of his wife of more than 20 years.

He told police the last time he saw Ms Ristevski was when she walked out of their home in the affluent suburb of Avondale Heights at around 10am on June 29, 2016, to "clear her head" following a minor argument over money.

He reported her missing the next day. Security cameras in the vicinity of the couple's $1.1 million Oakley Rd property had failed to capture Ms Ristevski leaving.

Neighbours also told reporters they had not seen her that morning and there were no reported sightings of her in the area.

A search of the nearby Maribyrnong River and its banks failed to uncover any trace of Ms Ristevski or the designer gold handbag and mobile phone they had been told she was carrying.

Police later traced pings from the couple's mobile phones to transmitter towers along Melbourne's Calder Highway on the day of her disappearance.

Ms Ristevski's mobile phone was reportedly tracked near Gisborne, 40km northwest of the family home, while Mr Ristevski's phone was detected near Diggers Rest, about 20km away.

Mr Ristevski later told police that after his wife walked out, he drove her 2004 Mercedes-Benz SLK coupe to a garage to fix a faulty fuel gauge before the fault corrected itself and he returned home.

Mobile phone data indicated that Mr Ristevski's phone was switched off for 2.5 hours on the day she vanished.

Mr Ristevski stopped co-operating with detectives in the middle of last year, claiming they had developed tunnel vision and were looking at no other suspects. Sarah followed suit.

She has also been dragged into a sordid feud between her father and his estranged son Anthony Rickard, who has made sensational and unfounded allegations about an affair he was carrying out with his stepmother.

He claimed Ms Ristevski had told his father she planned to leave him after their daughter turned 21 and that the pair had been planning to run away together in the lead up to her disappearance.

Mr Rickard told news.com.au he and Karen became intimate after he moved into the Ristevski home at the age of 16 following a falling out with his mother.

Before Karen's body was found, Mr Ristevski's brother Vasko speculated that Ms Ristevski had fled overseas on a fake passport to escape escalating tension between Mr Rickard, her husband and herself.

"I don't think she will come back, I reckon she's gone for good," he told reporters last August.

And in an interview with the Herald Sun, Vasko remarked that "a lot of husbands" kill their wives "but no way is Borce capable of that".

On February 20, a bushwalker stumbled across Ms Ristevski's remains in a shallow grave between two logs near a trail at Mount Macedon in Melbourne's north west.

Three months later, a Channel Nine TV crew saw Vasko walking towards his truck in the isolated bushland near the gravesite.
When reporter Martin King asked him what he was doing in the area, Vasko declined to answer and left the scene.

In June, police released footage of a black Mercedes-Benz SLK coupe, the same model of vehicle as Ms Ristevski's, driving north west along Old Calder Highway.

The grainy video shows the vehicle driving over a railway crossing in the Diggers Rest at 11.12am on the day she disappeared.

Police believe Ms Ristevski's body was being transported in the car for disposal. The footage is too grainy to identify the driver.

In March, hundreds of mourners dressed in black filled St John's Uniting Church in Essendon for a private funeral service before Ms Ristevski's body was taken to her final resting place.

Mr Ristevski was one of the pallbearers carrying her coffin, while their daughter Sarah carried a framed photo of her mother to lead the procession.

Mr Ristevski is expected to remain in jail over Christmas and is scheduled to appear at Melbourne Magistrates' Court on April 18.

Topics:  karen ristevski murder


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