Man Ristevski could never escape
It's July 14, and Karen Ristevski has been missing for 15 days.
Members of the media have gathered at Canning Reserve on the Maribyrnong River at Avondale Heights to hear from the distressed relatives of the 47-year-old who vanished without a trace.
Borce Ristevski, the 'loving husband', is there. So is Sarah Ristevski, the couple's only daughter. But Karen's aunt, Patricia Gray, does most of the talking.
Borce, she says, is too distressed to comment right now. So it comes as a shock when Cameron Baud, a reporter for Seven News, fires off a question that ends the press conference.
"Borce, did you kill Karen?"
The 55-year-old shoots Baud a long, blank stare then walks from the crowd of reporters with Sarah close by. As the pair depart, Missing Person's Squad Detective Stephen Dennis watches closely.
If Borce Ristevski wasn't officially a suspect before that, he was after.
In the next few weeks, Inspector Dennis leads a team that closes in on Karen's killer. They question Borce and establish that the couple had fought before the disappearance.
The husband's version of events doesn't add up.
Why did he act so casually on the day Karen went missing?
Why did he drive for ride-share company Uber in the afternoon, and fail to tell his own daughter that his wife had gone missing and not returned?
Why did he tell his parents she was at the shop the night she disappeared?
It's not long before Borce is Inspector Dennis's number one suspect, a fact confirmed by the 55-year-old's lawyer, Rob Stary.
The pressure, mounting on Borce, forced him to take matters into his own hands. He defied police orders two weeks after the initial press conference to address the rumours swirling around about his involvement.
On July 31, he told reporters there was CCTV at his home but the cameras had not been operating at the time his wife went missing.
Less than a month later, he made a public statement about the couple's finances - their retail business operating as Bella Bleu was struggling. He said they had fought over the day's takings but it had nothing to do with her disappearance.
The lack of evidence about what happened inside the $1.1 million mansion on the morning Karen disappeared is frustrating.
Eight months on, as Karen's body is discovered 50m from a road at Mount Macedon Regional Park, Ristevski remains a free man. He carries the coffin with his wife's remains at a funeral service in March, 2017.
He plays the victim, comforted by relatives and friends. But the police case against him is firming.
Inspector Dennis and the team have CCTV of Karen's Mercedes-Benz SLK coupe being driven towards the site where her body was found.
It would be nine long months before police swooped on their only suspect.
At 7.20am on December 13, he was charged with murder, but Inspector Dennis had moved on.
He was replaced by Detective Inspector Timothy Day who took the prosecution case to court where it ultimately fell short last week.
The judge ruled that a lack of evidence pointing to murderous intent made it difficult to proceed with a murder charge at trial.
Ristevski was offered manslaughter and he took it. For the first time in three years, he admitted to what he'd done.
He said what Inspector Dennis knew was the truth. He confirmed suspicions that were firmed during a brief but illuminating press conference in the days after Karen went missing.
Inspector Dennis will be watching closely from his new role in the professional standards command when Ristevski appears for a pre-sentencing hearing later this month.
He's expected to tell the court what happened the day he killed his wife. Or what he thinks the court wants to hear.