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Missing Whorouly woman Karen Chetcuti: Man in custody

Police have searched the house of Michael Cardamone, the neighbour of missing Whorouly woman Karen Chetcuti, and the Ovens River as the hunt for Ms Chetcuti continued into a fifth day.

Homicide detectives are speaking with Mr Cardamone, who is in custody in Melbourne, over her disappearance.

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Man arrested over missing Victoria woman

Karen Chetcuti's neighbour Michael Cardamone is taken into custody over the Whorouly mother's disappearance. Courtesy Seven News Melbourne.

Mr Cardamone, who told Fairfax Media he was the last person to see Ms Chetcuti before she went missing, is understood to have been arrested following a pursuit in Melbourne, and was taken into custody at Ringwood police station.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said a 48-year-old man was in custody following an alleged pursuit in the eastern suburb.

She said patrolling police came across a car on Punt Road in St Kilda shortly before 5am on Sunday.

In a bizarre development, police said they suspected the car of being involved in a report of a kidnapping of a 48-year-old Whorouly man about 2pm on Saturday.


Fairfax Media understands Mr Cardamone rang a relative on Saturday and claimed he had been abducted and was in the boot of a car. It is understood a report was then made to police after Mr Cardamone's solicitor was contacted.

Police then monitored a car fitting the description given by Mr Cardamone and tried to intercept it on Hughes Parade in Reservoir at 5.10am, but the car sped off.

The car was monitored by police air wing until the driver pulled over and was arrested  on the Ringwood Bypass near Maroondah Highway in Ringwood, about 6am. 

He has been interviewed in relation to traffic offences. 

Police are no longer looking for anyone in relation to the reported kidnapping. 

Search and Rescue Squad divers began searching the Ovens River at Whorouly from 11.30am on Sunday, about 800 metres behind Ms Chetcuti's property and along the same road as Mr Cardamone's home. The divers called off the search at around 3.30pm.

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

There has been no trace of the 49-year-old mother-of-two since Tuesday night.

The last confirmed sighting police have was of Ms Chetcuti leaving the Whorouly Hotel at 7.20pm

Though Mr Cardamone told Fairfax Media on Friday he was the last to see her, he denied any involvement in her disappearance.

Police tried to speak to Mr Cardamone twice on Saturday, but he was not at his house.

Mr Cardamone said Ms Chetcuti was at his property from 8.40pm to 9.15pm to collect tomatoes. Police have refused to comment on this information, saying they had been speaking to a number of people.

Ms Chetcuti's Citroen was found burnt-out on a dirt road near Myrtleford, about 20 kilometres away, at 5.15am on Thursday.

Ms Chetcuti lived alone at the Whorouly property, sharing custody of her two teenage children with her former husband. 

The pair moved to the quiet country town in northern Victoria about two decades ago to run the Whorouly Hotel, which they did for about five years before Ms Chetcuti started working for the city of Wangaratta, most recently as its records co-ordinator.

Friend Greg Haysom said Ms Chetcuti, who serves on a number of committees, is 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. 

With the Border Mail