Man arrested over missing Whorouly woman

GRIM SEARCH: Police divers scour the Ovens River in Whorouly on Sunday. Picture: MARK JESSER

GRIM SEARCH: Police divers scour the Ovens River in Whorouly on Sunday. Picture: MARK JESSER

The mystery over what happened to missing Whorouly woman Karen Chetcuti took a bizarre turn when her neighbour allegedly fled from police before being arrested and questioned over the disappearance.

Ms Chetcuti had not been seen since Tuesday, sparking a wide-scale search around her home and where her car was found burned out in Myrtleford on Wednedsay.

The SES, police motorbike and air wing units, which were all searching the town on Saturday, were no longer required by Sunday.

Police divers instead turned their attention to scouring the Ovens River, but did not find anything after four hours of searching.

Michael Cardamone, who previously served time in jail, had told Fairfax Media he was the last person to see Ms Chetcuti before she went missing.

Police attempted to visit the man’s Whorouly home on Saturday, but he was not seen until it is understood he was arrested for traffic offences at 6am on Sunday.

Victoria Police said a 48-year-old Whorouly man was arrested at following an alleged pursuit in Melbourne.

In a bizarre twist, police had received a report of the man being kidnapped on Saturday.

Officers came across a car in St Kilda suspected of being involved in the alleged kidnapping and the driver allegedly fled until he was intercepted in Ringwood.

Police are no longer investigating the kidnapping.

Michael Cardamone

Michael Cardamone

Fairfax Media understands Mr Cardamone rang a relative on Saturday and claimed he had been abducted and was in the boot of a car before a report was made to police when his solicitor was contacted.

Missing Persons Squad and Homicide Squad detectives were speaking to the man on Sunday evening in relation to the disappearance of Ms Chetcuti.

Search and Rescue Squad divers began searching the Ovens River from 11.30am on Sunday, but finished without finding any trace of the woman.

They focused their efforts north and south of the Whorouly-Bowmans Road bridge, about 800 metres behind Ms Chetcuti's property and along the same road as Mr Cardamone's home.

Numerous public calls were made to police since the woman’s identity was revealed, helping attempts to track her movements.

Officers also inspected two wells on Ms Chetcuti's farm.

By afternoon, it was no longer regarded as a crime scene and relatives were free to return to the property.

Police continued to stand guard at Mr Cardamone’s home.

A small dog had been left on the property when its owner disappeared, but police bought food and provided the animal with water in the heat.

The alarm over Ms Chetcuti’s disappearence was first raised on Wednesday morning when she did not show up for her job as the records coordinator at Wangaratta Council.

She had left the Whorouly Hotel at about 7.30pm the night before and Mr Cardamone told Fairfax Media she was at his property from 8.40pm to 9.15pm to collect tomatoes.

Friend Greg Haysom said Ms Chetcuti, who serves on a number of committees, was a "major part of Whorouly" and recently helped raise over $20,000 for the football club change rooms.

Mr Haysom described Ms Chetcuti as a "great mother" to her two children.

"I don't think you will find anyone who would say a bad word about her, she has the most infectious smile," he said.

Anyone with information can anonymously contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop