25 March 2024

Irma Palasics' cold case murder: detailed allegations revealed against accused killer

| Albert McKnight
irma palasics joseph vekony steve fabriczy

Irma Palasics (middle) was allegedly murdered in 1999 by Joseph Vekony (left) and Steve Fabriczy (right). Photos: ACT Policing/Supplied.

It is alleged that the DNA left behind on a three-litre container of milk was what helped crack the 20-year cold case murder of a Canberra grandmother.

Irma Palasics died on 6 November 1999 after two masked intruders forced their way into the McKellar home she shared with her husband, Gregor Palasics, and violently assaulted her.

No arrests were made until 2023, when Steve Fabriczy was charged with the 73-year-old’s murder, and now recently released court documents have revealed more details about the allegations against him and that tragic night.

For instance, police suspect that the incident was the third time the same alleged intruders targeted the Palasics.

The couple were living at Red Hill and had gone out on 29 June 1997 when burglars broke into their home and stole cash and belongings. No one has been charged over this incident.

Then, on the night of 10 October 1998, a balaclava-wearing intruder ran at Ms Palasics when she was at home and began repeatedly punching her in the face while ordering her not to scream.

He and another man fled, but she did manage to pull off his balaclava before he ran.

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Due to these incidents, the Palasics, who emigrated to Australia from Hungary in 1957 and established a joinery business in Fyshwick before retiring, no longer felt safe in Red Hill and moved to McKellar.

But at around 9:30 pm on 6 November 1999, two intruders disabled an outside security light and forced their way into the home through a bathroom window.

Ms Palasics was in her pyjamas and watching television in the loungeroom with her husband when the balaclava and glove-wearing intruders appeared and ran towards them.

One used a solid, cylindrical object to hit Mr Palasics in the face four or five times.

“Where is the money?” the man said.

“I’m sorry, I haven’t got any money,” Mr Palasics replied. He could hear his wife screaming but couldn’t see her.

The intruder used a phone cord and cable ties to bind Mr Palascis, then he and the other man ransacked their house. At one stage, Mr Palasics thought he saw one of them open the fridge and drink something from inside it.

The intruders left, allegedly stealing $30,000 cash before Mr Palasics eventually freed his hands and immediately looked for his wife.

Joseph Vekony

Joseph Vekony was extradited to the ACT over the death of Irma Palasics. Photo: ACT Policing.

She was dead when he found her in the hallway, surrounded by blood with bindings over her hands, ankles and mouth.

Police say the evidence showed Ms Palasics was violently assaulted while she sat in her lounge chair. The chair was tipped over and her false teeth and blood were found on the floor nearby.

She had allegedly been repeatedly hit in the face with a fist or a baton and suffered a broken nose. As the bindings were over her mouth, she couldn’t expel the blood so, in effect, she “drowned in her own blood”, a court has previously heard.

Mr Palasics, who was also injured in the incident, died from unrelated causes in 2004.

Police continued to investigate the case over the last 20 years, and it is alleged that in 2020, DNA found on a milk container that had been in the Palasics’ fridge was tied to Mr Fabriczy.

The 68-year-old was arrested at his home in September 2023 and extradited to the ACT. Police say that when they interviewed him, he expressed remorse for Ms Palasics’ death but denied being involved in her assault.

“I’m deeply sorry, whatever happened [sic]. But I had nothing to do with her murder. I didn’t know she died,” he said.

“I didn’t really know what happened to her. I never touch her, ever [sic].”

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Police told him that he seemed ashamed of his alleged involvement in the incident.

“Oh definitely, ashamed, very ashamed, but I had nothing to do with her murder,” he said.

Mr Fabriczy pleaded not guilty to murder, armed robbery, assault, unlawful confinement and two counts of burglary.

On Monday (25 March), the ACT Magistrates Court committed him to the Supreme Court for trial. His case will first appear in the higher court on 3 April.

His co-accused, 68-year-old Joseph Vekony from Endeavour Hills in Melbourne, has pleaded not guilty to murder as well. He is also accused of assaulting Ms Palasics and burglarising her home in Red Hill on 10 October 1998.

His matter was adjourned to 8 April, and the court heard that he would be committed to the Supreme Court on that occasion.

Both men have been remanded in custody.

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