The teenage son of a former TV hostess now missing for 10 years yesterday fought back tears as he told a Melbourne court how his mother swore on his life that she was not having affairs.
With his voice wavering, Lev Ramchen, 19, said his mother, former The Price is Right host Jacqueline Ramchen, put her hand on his head in 1991 and said to her husband: "May God strike my child if I'm lying about having affairs with anyone."
Lev Ramchen, a university student, told the Melbourne Magistrates Court that his mother later admitted she had been unfaithful to his father, Slavik Ramchen, and that she had lied to her husband "to protect her lovers".
Mr Ramchen, 61, a South Yarra businessman, is charged with murdering his 43-year-old wife, who was described yesterday by her father as "being on death row for a long time".
The court heard earlier that Mr Ramchen had accused her of
having numerous affairs.
Lev Ramchen referred to his mother's "so-called disappearance" and said it was "not entirely clear what has happened to her".
Questioned by Greg Lyon, for Mr Ramchen, Lev Ramchen told the court his mother had said she only had "another five to 10 years to have her fun and after that, no one would want her".
He described his father as a caring and compassionate parent.
The court heard that shortly after Mrs Ramchen's disappearance, Lev Ramchen, then aged nine, told police: "I do not love my mother because I cannot love someone who is destroying my family."
Mrs Ramchen's father, Josephus Mertens, said that when his daughter visited him in early 1992, she had scratches on her back, her hair was pulled out and she told him: "Dad, he belted me up." But under questioning from defence counsel Robert Richter, QC, he said he knew nothing about Mr Ramchen beating his daughter.
Jack Mertens told the court that in March, 1992, he saw his sister throw a glass and an extension ladder at Mr Ramchen after he complained about her affairs.
The committal hearing is continuing.
A former national television hostess missing for 10 years may still be alive, a Melbourne magistrate said yesterday in discharging her husband on a count of murdering her.
Magistrate Kim Parkinson said in her decision that Wilhelmina Jacoba Maria Ramchen, known as Jacqueline, told friends she could voluntarily "disappear without trace and never be heard from again".
Ms Parkinson found that if the prosecution's case was judged on the balance of probabilities, Mrs Ramchen could be presumed dead, but not on the criminal standard requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt.
Slavik Ramchen, 61, of South Yarra, was charged last year
with murdering his wife, formerly seen on The Price is Right. Mrs Ramchen, 43,
was last seen on April 10, 1992, and her body was never found.
Ms Parkinson said she was "not satisfied there is evidence of sufficient weight to support a conviction".
Earlier, prosecutor Robert Johnston told the court that Mr Ramchen had murdered his wife to avoid her getting a share of his $2 million to $3 million fortune, or the custody of their three children, if they divorced. Admitting the prosecution's case was based on circumstantial evidence, he said Mr Ramchen was also jealous of his wife's many affairs and had the "motive, opportunity and desire" to kill her.
But Ms Parkinson found that no murder weapon had been identified and there was "no evidence upon which a jury might reach a conclusion as to the manner in which Mrs Ramchen may have died".
Furthermore, she said the prosecution had not presented any incriminating forensic evidence and nothing suggested Mr Ramchen had intended to avoid his financial obligations towards his wife by causing harm to her.
During the committal hearing, Mrs Ramchen's family and friends told the court of violent incidents in the Ramchen home. They alleged Mr Ramchen had beaten his wife on many occasions and that she feared he would kill her.
But Ms Parkinson said the witnesses acknowledged they had never observed Mr Ramchen being violent towards his wife. She said many of them knew nothing about Mrs Ramchen's extra-marital relationships.
She said they readily conceded their evidence was "largely affected by what they had heard from Mrs Ramchen and not what they had actually observed".
She said that, over time, documents had also been destroyed, memories had been affected and possible witnesses had become unavailable or could not be located.
A senior homicide squad detective earlier agreed with defence counsel Robert Richter, QC, that nothing could disprove the notion Mrs Ramchen may have disappeared with one of her lovers and subsequently died.
The Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions still has the power to order Mr Ramchen to stand trial.
Victorian homicide squad detective Charlie Bezzina "lives in hope" that a man he accused of murder who is dying of cancer might reveal a 10-year secret.
Detective Senior Sergeant Bezzina learnt yesterday at the Melbourne Coroner's Court that Slavik "Vic" Ramchen might have just weeks to live.
Detective Bezzina says that given the condition of Mr Ramchen - once accused of murdering his wife Jacqueline, former hostess of television's The Price is Right - he would not seek a final meeting.
Mr Ramchen, 61, is most unlikely, of course, to admit to a
crime more than a decade old to which he has always maintained his innocence.
But Detective Bezzina said that "one never knows what's in the mind of these people, especially when they're on death's bed".
"Ultimately, you live in hope... maybe one day we can solve this mystery," he said.
Asked if he expected, at least, soon to receive information about the whereabouts of Mrs Ramchen's remains, he said: "Nothing would please me greater if we were to receive some information, down the track, be it sooner rather than later, (about) possible information indicating where the body may be."
Mrs Ramchen, a mother of three, was 43 when she disappeared in April, 1992, after expressing fears her husband might kill her.
Coroner Phillip Byrne found yesterday that on the balance of probabilities Mrs Ramchen is dead and was "very likely a victim of foul play".
He said it was an "incontrovertible fact" that shortly before her disappearance the Ramchens' matrimonial relationship had significantly deteriorated with "very considerable disharmony and discord". But Mr Byrne found on the appropriate standard of proof that he could not conclude Mr Ramchen was responsible for, implicated in or contributed to the death.
"I have to conclude the whole thing is a mystery," he said. Gabriele Cannon, counsel assisting the coroner, supported the findings.
An oncologist's report tendered to the inquest by Mr Ramchen's lawyer, Bob Galbally, said that his health would deteriorate rapidly over the next few weeks.
Mr Ramchen was discharged by a magistrate at a committal hearing in March on the murder count.
Magistrate Kim Parkinson heard at the time that Mrs Ramchen told friends she could disappear without trace.
Ms Parkinson found that on the criminal standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt, Mrs Ramchen could not be presumed dead. His lawyers argued the charge was based on theories without any proof a crime had been committed.
When beautiful former model and TV host Jacqui Ramchen disappeared in 1992, a missing persons report soon became suspected murder.
She dropped her three children at Christ Church Grammar then vanished from the family's mansion in nearby Domain Road, South Yarra.
Her wealthy Russian-born husband, "Vic" Ramchen was older, possessive, reputedly violent -- and had reasons to suspect his model bride was not a model wife in all respects. He told police she had "other men" -- and had probably run away with one of them.
Bezzina thought otherwise. Jacqui's parents told him Ramchen had bashed her and that she wanted to take the children and leave him.
Bezzina's guess was that Ramchen buried her near his farm at Macedon. But his crew could not prove it. Nine years later he arrested Ramchen, punting they could run a circumstantial case.
Like many other wealthy crooks, Ramchen hired defence wizard Robert Richter, QC.
The case failed but it didn't do Ramchen much good. He died of cancer six months later.
(Extract from http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/law-order/charlie-bezzina-joins-the-herald-suns-true-crime-scene-to-take-you-behind-police-lines/story-fnat7a38-1226295288099 by
Andrew Rule, Herald Sun, March 12, 2012)
(Extract from https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/andrew-rule/andrew-rule-the-real-dead-housewives-of-melbourne/news-story/dde384aadeac2485fc922c80be57573c by Andrew Rule, December 11, 2021 Herald Sun)
Former model and television hostess Jacqui Ramchen lived in a mansion in South Yarra with her three gifted children and her wealthy husband, Vic. That is until she disappeared in April 1992. Police claim the marriage had descended into violence and she was killed by her husband because she was planning a divorce. Her body has never been found and Vic Ramchen died of natural causes always denying he was a murderer.