Husband faces murder charges 16 years after murder of teen mother of two

Kimberley Made a public appeal: daughter Kimberley. Photo: Sylvia Liber

Police inspect the crime scene in September 1997 where Jodie Fesus’ body was found. Photo: Orlando Chiodo

It was 16 years ago that an anonymous phone call led detectives to a beachside camping ground near Gerroa on the NSW south coast, where they dug up the body of a teenage mother of two.

On Monday night at a hotel in The Rocks in central Sydney,  police arrested the 42-year-old husband of Jodie Fesus and charged him with murdering his then 18-year-old wife before burying her body at the Seven Mile Beach camping ground in 1997.

Fesus’ body was found one month after she disappeared from her home in Mount Warrigal, about 30 kilometres north of Gerroa.

The alleged killer had dug a shallow hole and buried Fesus’ body near the end of a dirt track leading to the beach, then erected a tent over her body.

Under the tent, police found a skull and knee bone protruding from the earth. The body was dressed in a nightie.

Fesus’ husband, Steven Frank Fesus, was the last person to see her alive. He said at the time he had left his young wife sleeping at their home and had taken their two children – Kimberley, 2, and Dylan, 1 – on a trip to a local club to drop off some paperwork related to his work as a security guard.

Fesus was gone when they returned home later that morning, he said. Two days later, Fesus’ purse was found near Oak Flats railway station with her identification still inside.

Police formed Strike Force Clanton II to investigate the killing.

Last week, detectives said they had received new information that led to the arrest of Fesus’ husband.

Mr Fesus did not appear when his matter came before Sydney’s Central Local Court on Tuesday.

The arrest comes a week after Fesus’ daughter Kimberley, who is now almost 18, pleaded for anyone who could help identify the killer to come forward.

”I am almost the same age that my mother was when she was murdered. The older I get the more questions I have,” Kimberley said last week.

”I was just two years old when my mum was taken from me. I don’t remember her. All I have is photographs to look upon and a few keepsakes that belonged to her.

”I want someone to be accountable for my mother’s death.”

Kimberley said it was hard losing her mother at such a young age.

”It was really hard not having a mum around, especially when you go to your year 6 formal … or when you have your first boyfriend or something like that, it’s definitely hard,” she said.

Fesus’ body was found four months after she married Steven Fesus. At the time of the death, Mr Fesus said he loved his wife ”so much” and that only his friends, family and children were keeping him alive.

”I still wake up thinking it’s all a dream and she’ll come back,” he said. ”This whole thing is unbelievable. When no one is around I get the wedding video out and just play and play it.”

Detectives have never identified the anonymous man who phoned police to say they would find a body at one of the public camping sites at Gerroa. Police were amazed at the time that the alleged killer chose to bury Fesus in an open, publicly accessible area with picnic barbecues nearby, rather than in the dense tea tree and banksia scrub surrounding the camp site near the coastal village of Gerroa.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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