The top cop who led the investigation into Melissa Caddick’s disappearance still believes the fraudster took her own life after an investigation was opened into her multi-million dollar scam, despite speculation the mother-of-one fled Australia.
The 49-year-old was reported missing by husband Anthony Koletti on November 13, 2020, two days after corporate watchdog ASIC and Australian Federal Police officers raided her Dover Heights home.
Police gathered a mountain of CCTV footage from surrounding homes.
At a ‘milestone meeting’ with senior police figures on February 15, 2021, Detective Sergeant Michael Foscholo asked for more resources to review the footage looking for any sign of Caddick.
Six days later, Caddick’s decomposing foot washed up in a running shoe on the NSW south coast’s Bournda Beach, some 350 kilometres from her home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
Sydney conwoman Melissa Caddick (pictured) vanished on November 12 2020 after ASIC agents and Australian Federal Police officers raided her Dover Heights home
Since that grim discovery Australians have been asking each other what they think happened to Caddick.
Det Sgt Foscholo, who took over as the officer-in-charge 10 days into the investigation, was asked just that by Mr Koletti’s counsel Judy Swan during an inquest in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday.
After a brief laugh at Ms Swan’s initial question – whether he had ever heard of the expression ‘someone died of shame’ – Det Sgt Foscholo gave his opinion.
‘It was clear to me Melissa Caddick’s fraudulent activities were one of the catalysts for her disappearance and ultimately the reason, or motive, as to why she committed suicide,’ he said.
Det Sgt Foscholo said the foot’s discovery led to police searching some ‘specific areas’ on the south coast but CCTV had already been gathered from Dover Heights coastal areas and marinas at Rose Bay.
Only about 20 per cent of the footage had been reviewed by the February 15 meeting.
There was no CCTV footage available for the quickest route from Caddick’s house to the Rodney Reserve Cliffs, where Det Sgt Foscholo believes Caddick jumped.
‘(It’s) the closest location to her home and it’s open ocean there,’ he said.
‘It’s not a bay … once you hit that open ocean, there’s many unknown variables.’
NSW Detective Sergeant Michael Foscholo (pictured) took over the investigation into Melissa Caddick’s disappearance
Detective Sergeant Michael Foscholo believes the fraudster took her own life by jumping off Rodney Reserve Cliffs (pictured)
Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command Detective Inspector Gretchen Atkins said injured or otherwise restricted officers from the area were assigned to reviewing CCTV from around the Dover Heights home where Caddick was last seen and from airports and other departure points.
‘We were quite short staffed at the time,’ Det Insp Atkins told the inquest on Tuesday.
Det Sgt Foscholo, who took over as officer-in-charge as Caddick’s disappearance began attracting widespread attention, wanted more help.
‘With the resources I had at my disposal we were pushing through it,’ he said.
‘Extra resources would have been good.’
His superior, Det Insp Atkins, said she tried to provide them.
‘I gave him what I could at the time,’ she said.
‘It was time consuming and painstaking and he was trying to review it as quickly as possible.’
Caddick’s husband Anthony Koletti (pictured at the inquest on Tuesday) reported her missing two days after her house was raided
Caddick defrauded family and friends of between $20 million-$30 million in a Ponzi scheme before she went missing (pictured with Koletti)
Det Sgt Foscholo told the inquiry his strategy was to immediately ‘saturate’ the area surrounding her home, canvassing for any CCTV that could be useful before it was deleted or overwritten.
But the CCTV was only one part of a complex investigation that was starting to attract widespread attention.
‘It was clear to me that Melissa Caddick was not just going to hand herself into a police station,’ Det Sgt Foscholo said.
Caddick defrauded family and friends of between $20 million-$30 million in a Ponzi scheme before her disappearance.
The inquest will resume in February.
It comes after Caddick’s husband slammed his ‘sickening’ portrayal on Channel Nine’s Underbelly show about the disappearance of his wife.
‘I don’t feel like they’ve portrayed me at all. I thought it was sickening,’ Koletti said of how he was portrayed in Underbelly: Vanishing Act, the Channel Nine production about the Melissa Caddick case
In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Daily Mail Australia, Mr Koletti said the program – where he was played by actor Jerome Velinsky – portrayed him inaccurately and untruthfully.
‘I don’t feel like they’ve portrayed me at all,’ he said. ‘I thought it was sickening’.
Koletti said there was no truth to the show – which aired in April and employed some creative licence in telling the story of Australia’s most notorious conwoman.
‘It was difficult [to watch] – I thought it was very tasteless,’ he said.
The exact circumstances of Ms Caddick’s suspected death are yet to be confirmed by a coroner, who will wrap up an inquest into the matter this week.
The inquiry – which will conclude on Tuesday after further evidence from two NSW Police officers – previously heard investigators initially thought she was on the run and there was no evidence of homicide.
Koletti said he had not been approached by Channel Nine about the show.
‘They stole my name and made up a story. I don’t think they see what damage that causes,’ he said.
Daily Mail Australia approached Channel Nine for comment on Mr Koletti’s remarks.
Earlier in the interview, Koletti said he ‘felt’ his wife was no longer alive when police told him they found her severed foot – and broke his silence on his new job and the toll years of ridicule as a ‘failed DJ’ and her ‘toyboy’ has taken on him.
Koletti revealed how he’s trying to get on with his life two years years after Caddick vanished without a trace, having stolen $23million of her clients’ cash while posing as a financial advisor.
He has returned to hairdressing after finally securing a position as a senior stylist at The Hair Angel in Balmain, in Sydney’s inner west.
The constant scrutiny made finding a job very hard with employers terrified of bad press associated with hiring a con-woman’s husband.
Actor Jerome Velinsky was cast to portray Mr Koletti in the Underbelly production
Anthony Koletti, husband of millionaire fraudster Melissa Caddick (pictured together),says he does not expect to get answers about the disappearance of his wife in November, 2020
But sitting in the salon with his new boss Deborah Bradshaw, Koletti said he is determined to draw a line under the saga – even if it means he’ll never find love again.
‘I still love Melissa, and I always will,’ he said.
‘I highly doubt I’ll find someone else, but that’s OK.’
Koletti knew his wife was dead the moment police approached him in March, 2021 and said they found her severed foot washed up on Bournda Beach – 400km from the home they shared together in Dover Heights.
Before that, he still thought she was alive.
‘In your heart, you know if someone is no longer on the Earth,’ he said. ‘When I spoke with police that day, I knew she was gone. I felt it inside my heart.’
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