By Tricia Mifsud
Homicide Squad detectives hope a $1 million reward will assist in solving the 1991 murder of a Whittlesea mother.
Melinda Freeman, who was 27 at the time, was found by her husband Craig, assaulted and dead in her Whittlesea home on October 4, 1991.
Ms and Mr Freeman had spent the day at a family reunion welcoming home her sister, and returned to their Yea Road home at 4pm.
Mr Freeman and son, Brent, then left for Kinglake for a card game, and returned at about 11.30pm.
Mr Freeman told police the house appeared to have been ransacked, with the front door open. He then saw Ms Freeman’s body lying at the top of the stairs.
When announcing the reward last week, Detective Inspector Dean Thomas said he hoped the reward would encourage anyone with information on Ms Freeman’s death to come forward.
The Homicide Squad is hoping a person who anonymously came forward in 2018 with information will again approach police to further talk about what they know.
“It’s been over 30 years since this incident occurred and I’m hoping today through the release of the $1 million reward that that will be enough for somebody in the community who knows about this crime,” he said.
“Back in 2018 we received some anonymous information from a member of the community in relation to this incident, so we’re appealing to that person to please come forward again and make contact with us because we are keen to continue to speak to that individual.”
Det Insp Thomas said countless people had been spoken to about the incident, and some people remained of interest, including Mr Freeman.
The Herald-Sun reported in 1997 a coroner’s inquest delivered open findings and it was revealed in court Mr Freeman had been having an affair with a close friend of his wife at the time of her death.
Coroner Jacinta Heffey said she was obliged to disregard the family’s belief Mr Freeman murdered his wife because the accusations were ‘based on nothing more than impressions, conjecture and speculation’.
“We’ve spoken to hundreds of individuals in relation to this and we certainly do have some persons of interest that remain to this day and a lot of those people … we’ve been unable to eliminate fully from the investigation,” Det Insp Thomas said.
“It’s fair to say that the former husband remains a person of interest in this investigation but we have to keep an open mind to that and be very open to the fact that it may be some other person or persons involved in this.”
Det Ins Thomas said a resolution to the case was owed Ms Freeman’s son.
“Melinda was in the prime of her life with a newborn baby who was nine months old and we very much owe it to Melinda’s son and also her family to be able to answer the questions they have,” he said.
“We’ve got to remember here that her nine month old son has grown up without his mother and I have no doubt he thinks about this on a daily basis and I’d like to be able to speak to that person and provide answers to him as to what occurred.”
A reward of up to $1 million will be paid at the discretion of the Chief Commissioner of Police, for information leading to the apprehension and subsequent conviction of the person or persons responsible for Ms Freeman’s death.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.