Bright tribute to Whorouly's Karen Chetcuti

FOR KAREN: Twenty balloons were released into the air during an emotional vigil held at Wodonga's Junction Place as rain cleared on Friday evening. Pictures: JAMES WILTSHIRE

FOR KAREN: Twenty balloons were released into the air during an emotional vigil held at Wodonga's Junction Place as rain cleared on Friday evening. Pictures: JAMES WILTSHIRE

Candles glistened across Wodonga, Myrtleford and the world on Friday evening to remember the bright, cheerful woman who was Karen Chetcuti.

Rain cleared, but tears flowed from about 30 people who gathered at Wodonga’s Junction Place to light their candles at 7.20pm, the time the 49-year-old was last seen at the Whorouly Hotel.

The “RIP Karen Chetcuti” Facebook page was filled with a stream of photos with candlelight tributes.

They included a photo from her former husband Tony Chetcuti, who sent a message simply saying “rest in peace Karen love Kate, Jack and Tony”.

A MOMENT IN GRIEF: About 30 people gathered to light a candle as Josh Groban's "To Where You Are" played at Junction Place.

A MOMENT IN GRIEF: About 30 people gathered to light a candle as Josh Groban's "To Where You Are" played at Junction Place.

Organiser Carol Roadknight was close to Ms Chetcuti and said she hoped her friend was smiling and could see the glowing tribute.

“Her smile was infectious, her laugh was just so bright,” she said.

At Wodonga and Myrtleford, groups paused to remember Ms Chetcuti, away from the anger and sadness that followed her death.

Thoughts of justice against Michael Cardamone, the man charged with her murder, waited for another day.

Instead they smiled and laughed as 20 balloons were released into the sky.

Mrs Roadknight said the Facebook page helped friends and strangers alike offer each other support.

“No one has had any time to grieve yet,” she said.

“I only thought there’s be a small group of people, but it’s just grown and grown.”

The pair met through a mutual friend and bonded with a shared sense of humour, always looking forward to having a laugh.

“We just spent a lot of time together, it was just fun,” Mrs Roadknight said.

“I can hear her giggling now.”

She had gathered favourite photos of her friend and hoped others could share their memories on Facebook to help create a photoboard.

NEVER FORGOTTEN: The rain cleared and a rainbow could be seen among the clouds in Wodonga during Friday's emotional tribute to Karen Chetcuti.

NEVER FORGOTTEN: The rain cleared and a rainbow could be seen among the clouds in Wodonga during Friday's emotional tribute to Karen Chetcuti.

Ms Chetcuti’s former partner Greg Haysom planned to channel his grief into a developing a device that could potentially prevent another violent death.

The Exact Computers owner in Wodonga had been researching devices and mobile phone apps, which could serve as a panic button.

He had the idea before Ms Chetcuti’s death, but the tragedy spurred him on to make it happen.

“I’m doing this because I don’t want anyone to go through what she did,” Mr Haysom said.

“That $10 could save someone’s life.”

He had a sample device in the store, but planned to speak to suppliers or app developers about the best design and how to educate the community.

Wangaratta Council was planning to create a fund for Ms Chetcuti’s two children, which executive officer Brendan McGrath said would be announced next week.

“There has been overwhelming support for the establishment of a fund from Karen’s work colleagues, friends and the local community,” he said. 

“We have also spoken with the children’s father and he is both supportive and appreciative of the concept.”

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