Police are conducting their most significant search to date of properties in a rural area north-west of Melbourne as part of the investigation into the disappearance of Avondale Heights woman Karen Ristevski.
Ms Ristevski, 47, was last seen at her home on Oakley Drive on June 29 and had not used her mobile phone or bank accounts, or made contact with friends or family since that time.
Police said they had searched a number of locations across the state, however Toolern Vale and Gisborne South remained the focus of their inquiries.
Detective Steve Dennis from the Missing Persons Squad was tight-lipped about what had brought them to the area.
“It is the most significant search we’ve conducted to date,” he said.
“We’re very keen to search this area as thoroughly as we can.
“We’re searching for any evidence or information that would assist us with the search for Karen Ristevski.
“We’re searching grassland, we’re searching farmland here, any wooded areas, certainly any creeks. We will search where we can.”
SES volunteers, the police dog squad and a cadaver dog were assisting in the search around Blackhill Road to Gisborn Road.
They have also drained a dam in Toolern Vale as part of their search.
Police plan to continue to search the area today and tomorrow and have significant resources at the scene.
Property owners urged to contact police with information
Local residents said it was the second time police had searched the area.
A couple of months ago, police issued a search warrant on a rural property on Blackhill Road and drained a dam.
“I would encourage any property owner who has seen anything in the area who has seen anything unusual in the area. I would invite them to contact police,” Sergeant Dennis said.
Police are searching paddocks about 1 kilometre from where Melbourne woman Jill Meagher’s body was found in 2012.
Ms Meagher was walking home after a night out and was murdered by Adrian Bayley.
Investigators are appealing for local residents to check their properties for any changes in the landscape or any suspicious activity since Ms Ristevski’s disappearance.
Ms Ristevski’s disappearance was described as “highly irregular” at the time and happened after an argument with her husband.
Her husband Borce Ristevski and her stepson, Anthony Rickard were interviewed by police but no charges were laid.
She was wearing a black jacket and jeans and it was believed she had a gold-coloured handbag and purse with her when she disappeared.
The Maribyrnong River and parklands near her home have also been searched as part of the investigation.