Australian cops charge man with murder of Malaysian wife, 25 years after her death

Australian cops charge man with murder of Malaysian wife, 25 years after her death
PHOTO: ST

PETALING JAYA - Australian police have the arrested and charged a used-car salesman for killing his Malaysian wife and brother-in-law 25 years ago.

According to a report from Australia's The Daily Telegraph, police charged Mark Caleo, 52, with the murders of his wife Rita Caleo and brother-in-law Dr Michael Chye in Sydney, unsolved crimes committed 25 years ago, some 10 months apart.

Mark was taken to Kogarah police station in New South Wales, where he was formally charged with murdering and soliciting the murder of his wife and Dr Chye.

The Daily Telegraph reported allegations about both murders were made in the prosecution's case against Mark and his younger brother Gerard Caleo, who was also arrested and charged last year.

Both Mark and Gerard have denied the allegations and will defend the charges against them.

The daily said that police claimed on May 15, 1990, Rita visited the couple's solicitor to prepare her last will and testament at the age of 39.

"Three months after penning her will, Rita hosted a dinner party with four girlfriends at her upmarket Double Bay townhouse. As she served food and entertained her guests, the couple's nanny put their two children, aged four and 16 months, to bed.

"Friends would later recall Rita receiving two phone calls that night but her voice was met with silence on the other end of the line.

"Just hours later, she was found slumped in a pool of blood in her en-suite bathroom, surviving only long enough to wake her nanny with a faint cry for help," The Daily Telegraph quoted the prosecutor Clint Nasr.

It added that the murder was carried out just metres from her baby's cot, and had all the hallmarks of a botched robbery.

Mark told police he was working late that night at one of the four restaurants the couple had owned at the time.

The case was not resolved for 25 years and based on their investigations, Police allege that a soured real estate deal between Mark and Dr Chye was the reason behind the plan to kill him.

Mark's brother, Gerard, 42, was arrested in August last year after he flew into Sydney Airport from Kuala Lumpur in what police described as a "major breakthrough".

Gerard, the general manager of the Hard Rock Cafe at Phuket resort in Thailand, appeared in a Sydney court in October last year and was charged with the stabbing murder of his sister-in-law in 1990, when he was just 18 years old.

Gerard was charged with solicitation to commit murder, accessory before the fact to murder and accessory after the fact to murder, and remanded in custody.

Detectives investigating the murders during the 1990s had several leads on who might want to kill the victims, who were the children of a senior Malaysian police officer, whose deaths attracted considerable media coverage in Malaysia and Australia.

According to a Daily Mail article, Dr Chye's 1991 inquest heard that he had given evidence to the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption about a multi-million dollar bank fraud.

The inquest was also told about a property dispute between Dr Chye, his sister and her husband over an AUS$3.6 million (S$3.8 million) house in southern Sydney.

Gerard's inquest was told that in the months leading up to her death, Rita had feared she might be killed and had given her solicitor a sealed envelope, on which she had written, 'to be opened only if my death is unnatural'.

Following her murder, police read a note in which she listed the names of two people she said had organised the execution-style murder of her brother.

However, the state coroner, Kevin Waller, said that the evidence presented by the letter failed to establish a prima facie case against any known person.

The NSW Police Force's Unsolved Homicide squad began re-examining the murders in 2008.

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