The Melbourne mum and businesswoman who has been missing for more than a month doted on her 21-year-old daughter, a family member tells WHO.
Karen Ristevski was last seen by her husband leaving the family home on June 29.
“Her family is most important to her, especially the love and devotion she has for her daughter Sarah,” says Karen’s cousin Lisa, a Sydney HR director. “Sarah and her mum are extremely close, they spoke many times per day. They are best friends.”
Which is why her family believe she wouldn’t just walk away. Yet in a case that has gripped Melbourne and has police scouring a waterway, there has been no trace of the 47 year old for more than four weeks.
“It’s not possible for someone to just disappear like this,” said her aunt and family representative Patricia, who has asked the media not to use her surname. “It’s not Karen. Karen would not leave us.”
Wearing a black blazer, jeans and carrying a gold Coach handbag and purse on the day she went missing, Ristevski was last seen at 10 AM by Boris, he said, as she left their $1.1 million home for a walk.
Boris, who has been formally interviewed by police as a matter of routine, said his wife left to “clear her head” following a heated argument over money. The couple are partners in formal-wear business Bella Bleu, which is in apparent financial trouble with reported debts as high as $600,000.
If the couple were under pressure, Karen kept a poker face. “I never got that impression,” says a long-time friend [she asked WHO not to reveal her name] who had dinner with Karen six weeks before she went missing. “She was always on the go, not stressed.”
While the family home has security cameras, they had not been operating for some time, so no vision of Karen leaving is available. Her phone and bank accounts have not been used since June 29. Police and SES have scoured parkland and the Maribyrnong River near Karen’s home. Said Det Insp Stephen Dennis: “We have grave concerns for her welfare.”
In a twist to the mystery, Boris’s 32-year-old son from a previous relationship has revealed a long-standing secret “conflict” within the family. In an interview with the Herald Sun, Melbourne father-of-two Anthony Rickard said he did not kill his stepmother, but his “anger” over the so-called conflict gave him a “motive to hurt her.” Said Rickard, who is reportedly battling an ice addiction. “I had nothing to do with [her disappearance] besides calling her to confront her.”
At her home in Sydney, Karen’s cousin Lisa is trying to remain positive, recalling memories of the last time she saw the woman who has been an unwavering source of support since the untimely loss of her own parents. “I recently saw Karen and her family when we all had a vacation,” says Lisa. “She was happy. We had lots of laughs. We talked about our next trip away. I just hope they find Karen soon, as does everyone who knows her.”
Crimestoppers: 1300 333 000
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