Who killed Irma? 60 Minutes program reveals major developments

ACT Policing has renewed its call for anyone with information as to who killed Irma Palasics in 1999 to come forward after major developments in the cold case murder were aired on the ‘60 Minutes’ program

ACT Policing has renewed its call for anyone with information as to who killed Irma Palasics in 1999 to come forward after major developments in the cold case murder were aired on the ‘60 Minutes’ program last night (November 2).

About 9.30pm on Saturday, November 6 1999 two unknown male offenders forced their way into the home of elderly couple, Gregor (aged 73 years) and Irma Palasics (aged 72 years) in Grover Crescent, McKellar.

Mr and Mrs Palasics were bound and savagely beaten before the men ransacked their home, stealing cash and jewelry.

After the offenders left, Mr Palasics was able to free himself and phone police however, the injuries suffered by his wife were too severe and she died at the scene.

Two previous burglaries, which occurred at the Palasics home in Red Hill in 1997 and another in 1998, are believed to be linked to the aggravated burglary in McKellar which resulted in Irma’s murder.

On 29 June 1997, unknown offenders entered the Palasics residence and stole in excess of $100,000 in cash, numerous items of expensive jewellery and a number of Australian $200 gold coins.

On 10 October 1998, two male offenders were disturbed by Irma in the process of a further burglary. A struggled ensued between Irma and one of the offenders, during which Irma was assaulted. Irma managed to pull the balaclava from the head of one offender before both men escaped via an adjoining laneway.

A witness later told Police that he observed a person, who Police believe to be one of the offenders, get into a vehicle parked on Quiros Street, Red Hill and depart the area. This vehicle was described as being 1980’s model silver or light blue coloured sedan, with a possible faulty headlight and ACT registration plates.

The witness also observed a second male person, who Police believe to be an unidentified witness walking his dog in the area of the adjoining laneway. He described this male as being between 45 and 50 years old, Caucasian in appearance, approximately 186cm tall, solid build with short black curly hair, brown eyes, a black neatly trimmed beard and wearing black rimmed spectacles, dark long sleeve shirt, long pants and walking a tan labrador or retriever dog.

In 2012 ACT Policing released CCTV footage of an attempted aggravated burglary which occurred in Phillip on Sunday, May 16 2010 at the Pitch & Putt in Phillip. Evidence left at the scene is believed to be linked to other evidence left at the scene of Irma’s murder in 1999.

Police believe one of the five men involved in the Pitch & Putt burglary may be able to provide information crucial to the Palasics homicide investigation. It’s understood all five men may have attended an 18th birthday party earlier in the night (May 16) at the Slovenian-Australian Club located less than one hundred metres from the Pitch & Putt.

Last night’s 60 Minutes program, aired nationally on Channel Nine, revealed three major developments in the Palasics murder. They included:

  • Release of two facial identification images depicting the unidentified witness and suspect believed to be involved in the 1998 aggravated burglary of the Palasics former residence in Red Hill.
  • DNA taken from a number of tape lifts from the balaclava worn by one of the offenders in the 1998 aggravated burglary (Red Hill) matches DNA profiles obtained from the 1999 Irma Palasics murder scene in McKellar.  This is the first time a link has been established between the two crime scenes.
  • Release of an image depicting a shoe believed to have been worn by one of the offenders involved in the murder of Irma Palasics on 6 November 1999.

Officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Senior Constable Jarryd Dunbar, has said the latest developments are significant and has urged anyone with information, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, to come forward and provide that information to Police.

“It may be the final piece of the puzzle. Cold cases by their very nature are difficult to solve, we really need the public to assist us in developing new investigative leads and bringing other enquiries to resolution”

“Irma Palasic’s murder was a horrific crime, targeting a vulnerable member of the community. What makes this crime worse is the fact that it occurred in the sanctity of her own home, a place where people should rightly feel safe. Those persons responsible need to be found and brought before the court”.

“It’s possible that someone out in the area of Pelsart Street Red Hill on 10 October 1998, or Grover Crescent McKellar on 6 November 1999 may have seen or heard something suspicious that, at the time, seemed unusual or insignificant. With the release of the two facial identification images we would like people to cast their minds back to this time and contact us with any information they believe may assist us in bringing this investigation to a close”.

“A $500,000 reward remains in place for information leading to a successful prosecution. If there are people out there that are concerned for their safety, there are provisions available to protect your identity.

“After 15 years of waiting, now is the time to come forward and tell us what you know”.

Elizabeth Mikita, Irma’s daughter said anyone who knew her mother knows that she didn’t deserve to die the way she did.

“She was a lovely caring person, much loved by her family and friends and we think about her every day. Her death has been devastating and while we continue to recover 15 years on, we need to know who killed her and why. Without answers to these questions we cannot move forward, we cannot rest and we cannot overcome our grief”.

“Those persons responsible for the death of my mother not only took her life, but also took my father’s life. He was never the same after her death. He died believing that he had failed to protect his wife. It wasn’t his fault and he didn’t deserve to live out the final years of his life blaming himself”.

Police are urging anyone who has any information on the Irma Palasics murder to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website. Information can be provided anonymously.