Maria James inquest turns to lover-suspect

·2-min read

Peco Macevski is the only suspect in the brutal and unsolved murder of Melbourne mother Maria James four decades ago who is still alive.

Mr Macevski, a former real estate agent, was having an affair with Ms James, 38, when she was killed at her Thornbury home in June 1980.

Ms James was stabbed 68 times, including 38 times in her back and 11 in her neck, with three wounds on her head.

And witnesses have told a new inquest into the murder that they saw a blood-splattered man running away from the scene.

But Mr Macevski's wife, Stojanca, said she never noticed anything suspicious while washing his clothes.

"I've always done his washing and there's never been anything on his clothes that made me think he did anything wrong or that anything was different," Mrs Macevski told the Victorian Coroners Court on Friday.

The elderly woman only found out about her husband's affair with Ms James in February this year when informed by a detective.

The officer, Mrs Macevski said, repeated the information three times to make sure she understood. But the couple remain happily married after the issue was raised.

"He said 'yes it's true and I'm sorry'," Mrs Macevski told the inquest.

"It was a long time ago and they were young. He's still with me, I'm still happy, and I'm still having a good life - then and now."

Peter Wilson, who was driving near Ms James' Thornbury home the day she was murdered, earlier said he saw a man running down the street with "blood down his shirt to his waist."

Meanwhile, crime scene examiner Terrence Collins said he found Ms James lying on her back with her hands tied together with twine, across her stomach.

Mr Collins also found Ms James' bedroom walls, door, carpet and wardrobe were covered in blood, and there were two blood-stained pillow cases.

Apart from Mr Macevski, the other five murder suspects include two priests, Father Anthony Bongiorno and Father Thomas O'Keeffe, who have both been accused of molesting Ms James' son Adam on the weekend before the murder.

Local man Mario Falcucci who argued with Ms James before she died, Peter Keogh who stabbed his partner Vicki Cleary to death in 1987, and Lyle Perkins who was convicted of assaulting two hitchhikers in August 1980, were also named.

Mr Macevski is expected to give evidence before the inquest next week.

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