THE answers to why and how Sydney man Sam Karmas disappeared
may lie at the bottom of the Georges River.
Police divers yesterday began scouring the river and nearby Salt
Pan Creek at
Padstow Heights as part of their investigation into the
disappearance of the father of three.
Elisha Karmas, known as Sam, vanished from his
Punchbowl home on the afternoon of August 11 this year.
His wife Jenny reported him missing the next day.
"We have information suggesting there is evidence in the river
which may help our investigation," said Homicide Squad Commander
Detective Superintendent Michael Willing.
"Sadly that may be a body or other clues which will indicate what
happened to Mr Karmas."
Since his disappearance Strike Force Flaggy has interviewed scores
of people and are convinced the self-employed handyman has been
Police have some very "strong persons of interest" but need
evidence before any charges can be laid.
"Mr Karmas may have had an argument or witnessed something which
has led to his disappearance," Supt Willing said.
"There is nothing in his background to suggest he is involved in
anything criminal. He is a hard-working, committed family man."
Investigators believe two vans with NSW registrations - a blue
Ford, BE-32-CB, and white Toyota, AU-05-JC - are linked to Mr Karmas'
disappearance. They were seen travelling westbound on the M5 at 8.40pm
on the Thursday Mr Karmas was last seen.
They are believed to have gone to the
Campbelltown and southern highlands area. Both vehicles have since
been seized by police.
A 34-year-old Punchbowl man was charged after cannabis was
allegedly found in the back of one of the vans.
If anyone has information they should contact police
anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000
ALMOST one year ago, Jenny Karmas came home to find her
husband of 26 years had simply disappeared.
Every time I stand at my kitchen window, I see it: my husband
Sam's boat. It was his dream to own one and I can still hear him
asking, "Does anyone want to come out fishing with me?"
He loved to share his enjoyment of it, but I'll have to find a
new home for it now because I don't think Sam will be using it
again; 11 months ago, he walked out of our home, leaving the doors
open and his wallet and keys on the bench, and never came back.
Life has been in limbo ever since. Whenever the phone rings, I
wonder if it's the police with some news. We live in a safe,
suburban area. Sam was a devoted husband and father, and a
much-loved neighbour. I tell myself, "People like Sam don't
mysteriously disappear. He'll walk back through that door one day."
But he never does.
Some people live their whole lives without meeting someone as
special as Sam. I was blessed. I met him at 18; he was pretty much
my first boyfriend. Four years later, in 1985, we married and bought
a two-bedroom house in Punchbowl, in south-west Sydney.
A self-employed builder, Sam could see its potential and we
planned to make it bigger for when we had children.
We wasted no time starting a family. Rebecca was born in 1986,
followed by Daniel three years later and Sarah a year after that.
Sam was so proud of his children - he took photos when they scored
goals in sporting matches, and when Rebecca was the first in the
family to go to university, he had her degree printed onto a gold
Sam drew up the plans for the house - a space for a big table
so we could all eat together, a kitchen looking out over his vegie
garden and four bedrooms. By the time he started doing the work,
Rebecca was 14. That was partly because he could never say no to
helping out a neighbour. When we did begin renovating, the whole
family was involved.
The kids still look back on that time with fondness. It was a
big family project; we were all painting, sanding or cleaning
bricks. But there was still time for laughs. For a while, we had a
big floor area with no walls, similar to a stage, and the kids would
perform shows while Sam video recorded them.
When the house was finished, it was a real family home, built
with real family love.
Every time I thought life couldn't get any better, it did -
especially in 2010, when Sam and I were finally able to take a trip
back to his native Greece together. I'd never seen him happier. He
showed me the place where he was born, I met his relatives and we
toured the islands. It was a perfect time.
And then, out of the blue, on August 11 last year, Sam
disappeared. It was a normal Thursday. We ate breakfast together and
he told me he was staying home to order materials for a job. I
readied myself for work and kissed him goodbye. "See you, darling.
Have a lovely day," he said.
When I came back at about 5.30pm, his ute was out the back and
his toolbox and the shed door were wide open. "Hi, Sam. I'm home," I
called. When he didn't reply, I assumed he was busy and hadn't heard
me. We were due to go out at 7.30pm, so I prepared dinner and then
called out again: "Sam, dinner's ready."
Still nothing. I went outside to look for him. He couldn't
have gone far. He wouldn't have left the house and his toolboxes
I tried his mobile. It was switched off. I thought he'd
forgotten to charge it, although it was strange he hadn't left me a
message. I figured he was dealing with an emergency and went to the
meeting by myself.
When I returned, there was still no sign of him. By the
following morning, I knew something was wrong. I called his brother
and sister and we walked around the neighbourhood, knocking on doors
and asking if anyone had seen him during the day.
The last time anyone saw him was at about 2.30pm. In typical
fashion, Sam had been helping a neighbour move furniture and fix
some locks. Then he'd said he had to go somewhere and walked off. No
one knows where he went.
We called the police. The children and I were numb. We huddled
together on the couch, frightened and bewildered. We kept looking
out the window. When anyone walked past, we wondered, is that him?
So many thoughts raced through my head, I couldn't sleep. I
knew something bad must have happened but, at first, I was sure he'd
return. Maybe someone had tied him up somewhere and the police just
had to find him. But as the days turned to weeks and the weeks
became months, my hopes faded.
Life is strange and complicated when someone's gone missing. I
tried to tell our health insurance company to stop taking the direct
debit for Sam out of our account, but I couldn't say he'd passed
away, especially with no death certificate.
I listen to the news with sharper focus. Every time there's a
report about a body or human bones being found, I think, is it Sam?
Are they going to call me? I'm relieved when they don't, yet I know
I'm postponing the inevitable. One day, they'll call.
I experienced the same feeling when police divers searched the
Georges River, where he used to take his boat. I wanted them to find
something, but I also hoped they wouldn't, because that would mean
he was definitely dead and then we'd have to deal with that.
We haven't had any sort of memorial. Friends have said they'd
like to give thanks for Sam, but I don't want to do anything because
the police might find a body and then we'll have to organise a
funeral. But I think the time is coming when it would be a good
thing to do so people can express their love for Sam and what he's
done for them.
The house still looks the same as the day Sam walked out. I've
packed up his clothes, but I haven't thrown them away.
I still have his tools, his truck and his boat. I know it's
part of moving on, but these things are hard to sort out.
Big celebrations come and go, such as Sarah's 21st birthday,
and we think of him and wonder if there's a chance he can still
think of us, too. We spent Christmas with his family and, as I
watched the kids play on a blow-up water slide, I found myself
smiling: "Oh, Sam would have so been in there playing with them."
Despite everything, my faith has helped me cope. I hope my
prayers will be answered. Someone knows where Sam is and I pray
they'll say what happened to him.
Anyone with information on Sam should call Crime Stoppers on
1800 333 000. National Missing Person's Week runs July 30 to August
5. Visit www.missingpersons.gov.au.
Missing but not forgotten
* Every year, 35,000 people are reported missing in Australia.
* 85 per cent of missing people are found within a week of being
* Today, an estimated 1600 people have been missing for more than
JENNY BROCKIE: Jenny, your husband disappeared two years ago.
Describe that last morning that you saw him? What happened?
JENNY KARMAS: It was just like any other morning. We got up, we, I was
getting ready to go to work, we had breakfast together. Sam was a self
employed builder so he was staying home that day just to order some
materials for the job he was working on that week. We had, as I said we
had breakfast together. I kissed him goodbye, he answered back, see you
darling, have a lovely day and I went off to work about quarter past 8.
JENNY BROCKIE: And when did you realise he was missing?
JENNY KARMAS: Well I came home from work around about 5.30 in the
evening and I noticed that the radio was still on in the house, the
house was unlocked. His, his shed in the back where he keeps all his
tools was open and all the tools were exposed to the air. His work
vehicle, his ute was parked across the driveway and all his toolboxes on
the back of the ute were wide open, his keys were at home and yeah, so
from that point I thought this is funny, something's happened here, he's
not here. So I tried calling his mobile phone, it was switched off. Um,
couldn't get through to him.
So from then I thought well, he's gone off, he's gone to, something's
come up that he's had to go and rush to, to go and help someone, maybe a
neighbour. He couldn't have gone too far because he left the house open,
left his keys at home so, he'll be back, he's always back.
Um, fell asleep on the couch waiting for him, I thought oh, he'll be
home, something's come up, he's had to rush out. But when I finally woke
up it was about 5.50 in the morning and that's when I realised no, this
is wrong, something's happened here.
JENNY BROCKIE: And when did you report him missing to the
JENNY KARMAS: I think after we initially tried everything and exhausted
all avenues of finding out where Sam was, we contacted one particular
neighbour who said that he had seen Sam yesterday, sorry, the Thursday
afternoon around about 2 o'clock in the afternoon and that person was
the last person to see Sam. So at that point I thought no, we need to
call the police now and we did that.
JENNY BROCKIE: Let's have a look at what it's been like for you
in those two years.
JENNY KARMAS’S STORY:
JENNY KARMAS: Sam was such a family man he really appreciated family.
'A bit of chicken so may as well finish it, come on, any more.’
And when we are together at Christmas time and at birthdays, these
special occasions are times when you miss that loved one who is not here
anymore. Every day I think of Sam, he is a part of where I’m living, in
this house everything around us reminds us of Sam. When we are sitting
around having coffee or eating, something will come up and we’ll
remember something of Sam and that memory will come back and we will
have a good laugh about it.
Sleeping, sleep in the bed on my own - that was hard. Sam"¦we have
always been together. Learning to do manual things around the house, Sam
would fix everything – his boat is still here, he loved fishing and the
boat I can see from the kitchen window, the ute is in the same spot that
he always parked it. Those sort of things are there now as a reminder of
With Sam’s clothes and his belongings, I have packed them away, that was
kind of one of the hardest things I have had to do, as your sorting
through the clothes you see things that he’s worn on special occasions
or we have been together with and he has had that shirt on, or those
pants on or"¦ I haven’t been able to get rid of those yet because I
don’t know what has happened and I don’t feel I can until I really know
what has happened to Sam.
JENNY BROCKIE: Jenny that must be so hard. Are there any clues
about what's happened?
JENNY KARMAS: It's an on-going police investigation, yes. So the police,
with the homicide squad, we suspect Sam has been murdered. So yes, but
it's on-going, so the police are following up every lead that they have.
JENNY BROCKIE: And obviously we can't go into that because it is
an on-going investigation, but when did you find out that it had turned
into a homicide investigation?
JENNY KARMAS: It was quite quickly actually. It was quite evident from
what the police discovered in those early days that foul play had been,
had happened to Sam.
JENNY BROCKIE: And what was that like for you when you found
JENNY KARMAS: It's like this can't be happening, this is just like a
movie, it's not real.
JENNY BROCKIE: Paul Roussos, you are from the New South Wales
Missing Persons Unit which oversees these kind of cases.
CHIEF INSP. PAUL ROUSSOS, NSW POLICE: I am.
JENNY BROCKIE: I mean I appreciate the delicacy of this
situation, given that it is an on-going investigation, but what can you
tell us just about when something does become clear that it should be a
CHIEF INSP. PAUL ROUSSOS: Look, I think that's a perfect example of how
things escalate based on the circumstances. So the system seems to have
worked well to get straight onto the case, even though we haven't had an
outcome yet and we still hold out hope, the system has worked in that
DET. SNR. SGT. RON IDDLES: Jenny, in Victoria we monitor all missing
persons and we pick up maybe 8 to 9 that are homicides a year that have
JENNY BROCKIE: Eight to 9 out of how many?
DET. SNR. SGT. RON IDDLES: Out of 3,000 so it's less than 1 percent but
we've got to make sure that those ones don't slip through the cracks
because they're the ones that yeah, yes everyone wants their loved one
back but they're the runs where there's a criminal offence and we've got
to make sure that those ones just don't go by the wayside.
JENNY BROCKIE: But this is a terrible situation for you, isn't
JENNY KARMAS: Every day I'm thinking is the phone going to ring today?
Are they going to say they've found Sam or they've found his body? Are
the police going to ring and say yes, we've laid charges? So I'm just
waiting every day for that call.
JENNY KARMAS: Yeah, the longer you don't hear any news, the harder it
gets. You know, in those first early days you're hoping and you're
actually looking and you're looking out the window and thinking that
that person's walking past and you know, a number of times we're sitting
on the couch, is that Sam? Is he walking back in and he's not? And then
you get people telling you oh, I think I saw someone looking like Sam in
the shopping centre, but you know it's not. And as time goes on it gets
harder and then you're still thinking well, what happened to my loved
one on that day? What happened to the person, this person, what were
they involved with on that day that caused them to become missing?
JENNY BROCKIE: What has your experience been of dealing with
police overall? Jenny?
JENNY KARMAS: Well, I can say our experience has been good. The police
that came looking out for Sam were straight away on the job. They asked
all the right questions. It's moved on very quickly and I'm happy to
think that they are doing their very best under sometimes a tricky legal
system to get the result that we need. And I know that that's going to
take time for our police.
JENNY BROCKIE: Tonight we're talking about what happens when
people go missing and whether the system is working as well as it could.
One thing I think that people don't think about is the privacy laws and
the impact that they can have on these situations. Now Jenny, you told
us earlier that your husband's disappears is now the subject after
homicide investigation. How difficult is it then for you to move on with
your life in a practical sense?
JENNY KARMAS: Okay, we do our best to move on and I've encouraged the
three children to continue their studies and working and whatever we
need to do. I've got a problem now with, with his ute, his work vehicle,
the ute and also his boat in that they were both registered in his name
with the RTA and I thought well yeah, I can sell them. My daughter,
youngest daughter Sarah got married in April so I needed to pay for that
wedding. So I thought yeah, I'll sell the boat, sell the truck - that
will cover it.
Rang up the RTA and asked what happens in this situation and the problem
of having to explain your situation over and over again to not only RTA
but say phone companies, electricity companies, all that type of thing,
gets very monotonous and you know, at one point I contacted one
particular phone company and they said - I actually said to the guy:
"Look, can you please Google Sam Karmas and you'll find out that I'm
telling the truth?" So he actually did that and he rang me back and he
said: "Oh, I can help you now because I can see your situation."
JENNY BROCKIE: So have you been able to sell those things?
JENNY KARMAS: I haven't yet because, because our investigation is
on-going, it hasn't actually gone to Coroner's Court so even though
we're assuming that Sam is deceased, I don't have anything to prove that
and I don't have a death certificate to say yes, he's deceased and
therefore I can continue on with what I need to do. So in order to sell
the boat and the ute, I have to actually take out a Supreme Court order
to give me the rights to manage Sam's affairs, which to me seems very
extreme to have to go that far to do that.
I assume that the truck and the boat would just sit there deteriorating
in value. I'm paying the registration every year on them, I'm paying
maintenance on them to keep them running at least so that in the future
I can sell them but I don't know how long I have to wait until"¦.
JENNY BROCKIE: And meanwhile you're still looking at them out
that window every day?
JENNY KARMAS: Yeah, every day.
Sydney builder who murdered neighbour he wrongly believed was involved
in his twin brother's death is jailed for 18 years
The family of murdered Punchbowl man Sam Karmas says justice
hasn’t been served as long as his killer and accomplice refuse
to reveal where he is buried.
His widow Jennifer Karmas has called for ‘no body, no parole’
laws to apply to both Terry Elefterios Fantakis who was jailed
for a minimum 18 years today for murder, and Andrew Keith Woods
who was jailed for at least six for helping hide the crime.
Mr Karmas’ work tools were unsecured and his wallet was on the
kitchen table when he disappeared from his Punchbowl home seven
He wasn’t planning to go very far, in fact he had simply
wandered across the road to speak to Fantakis who was under the
delusion that he had a hand in the death of his twin brother who
had in fact committed suicide.
Mr Karmas went with Fantakis to another property nearby where he
His killer than loaded his body into a van a van and with the
help of his friend Andrew Woods, dumped it somewhere in the
Georges River Catchment never to be found.
Justice Helen Wilson highlighted their continued refusal to
reveal how Mr Karmas was killed and where his body was buried.
“No words the court can use are adequate to acknowledge the
depth of the suffering.”
She said Fantakis prolonged the suffering of his victim’s
“No doubt because he does not perceive it to be in his interests
to do so.”
She agreed Fantakis had developed a mental illness following the
death of his twin brother, and had developed the belief that Mr
Karmas was siding with his brother’s partner in a battle over
He had told him “I will bury you alive if you say anything more
But Justice Wilson found despite that illness he knew what he
was doing was wrong, proven by his extensive attempts to cover
up what he did.
She also described as “absurd” his claims at trial that the trip
to the Georges River in August 2011 was part of the cultivation
of cannabis rather than the covering up of the body.
Outside court Mrs Karmas said they were devastated at the
sentences, particularly because with time already served Woods
will be eligible for parole next year.
'Why should he be released?' Sydney widow fights parole for murder
Andrew Woods, 42, helped Terry Fantakis dispose of his neighbour
after he was killed inside a Punchbowl home in 2011.
His minimum six-year term was due to expire in October this
Mr Karmas' widow had pleaded with the State Parole Authority not
to release him under "no body, no parole" legislation.
"There's only two people who know where Sam's remains are and
he's one of them, so why should he be released holding on to
that secret and keeping our family with no freedom?" she told
Today after a private meeting the Authority formed an intention
to refuse his release.
"The Authority cited the need for a psychiatric report and the
offender's failure to disclose the location of the victim's
remains as considerations," they said.
Fantakis is serving a minimum 18 years behind bars for killing
Mr Karmas in a Wilga Street property.
"The offender Fantakis, under the sway of a deluded belief that
Mr Karmas had been involved in the death of his brother in May
2011, came to blame and hate him," Justice Helen Wilson found.
The two men loaded his body into a van and are believed to have
dumped him somewhere along the Georges River.
Fantakis later cleaned the van with bleach to remove forensic
Mrs Karmas has also urged the State Government to toughen up the
"no body, no parole" law which is only a consideration in New
In Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia an offender "must
not" be released if they don't help locate a victim's remains.