Detectives from the Missing Person Squad are hopeful that today’s announcement of a $1 million reward will assist in solving the 2003 suspicious disappearance of Thornbury man Nick Falos.
Nick, who was 58 at the time, was last seen on Friday 14 March, 2003 about 8.30am as he drove his car along Albion Street in Brunswick.
His red Porsche coupe bearing registration JD 944 was discovered burnt out in the Yarra State Forest at the intersection of Mt Beenak Road and Torbetts Road, near Gladysdale, three days later on 17 March.
Nick was also known to drive a brown 1975 Holden sedan, however this vehicle was found parked at his home address.
A neighbour became concerned after they hadn’t seen Nick for several weeks and reported him missing on 1 April, 2003.
Police conducted an extensive search of bushland near Gladysdale on 16 May, 2003 but were unable to locate him.
Nick’s disappearance is considered suspicious and is continuing to be investigated by detectives from the Missing Persons Squad.
Investigators believe a phone call was made from a pay phone to Nick on the morning of Saturday, 15 March 2003.
Police also received separate information from a number of sources around the time of his disappearance about cannabis cultivation in the Yarra State Park and Yarra Junction areas.
Investigators are still looking into whether this is connected to Nick’s disappearance.
Nick is of Greek heritage and also goes by the name Nikolaos Falieros.
On 17 August, 2018 a 77-year-old Endeavour Hills man was arrested in relation to Nick’s disappearance.
A second man, aged 84 from Devon Meadows was also arrested on 14 August 2018.
Both men were released without charge and the investigation remains ongoing.
Investigators have released a number of photos of Nick, along with an image of a vehicle similar to his red Porsche, in the hope someone will remember seeing him or the car and be able to provide police with information.
Detective Acting Inspector Tony Combridge of the Missing Persons Squad said police believe Nick was murdered and despite an extensive investigation, are still searching for answers.
“It may be 18 years since Nick disappeared, however I would like to strongly reinforce to the community that this is very much an active investigation,” he said.
“There is the possibility that the person or persons responsible for his death may have spoken to someone about Nick and today’s reward announcement may lead to them finally coming forward with information.
“People’s circumstances can change over the years and someone who may not have wanted to provide information to police previously may now feel ready to do so.
“While Nick is no longer believed to be alive, we are still hopeful of finding out what happened to him.
“It is also our belief that a number of people were potentially involved in Nick’s murder.
“Circumstances change, people may move in different circles, have new friends or partners and information they may not have felt comfortable providing 17 years ago, they can now speak more freely to police about now.
“We certainly believe there are a number of people who are in a position to assist us with this investigation.
“We’re also keen to speak to anyone who recalls seeing Nick or his red Porsche in the Yarra Junction area on 15 or 16 March, 2003.
“It doesn’t matter how insignificant you think the piece of information is, it could be exactly what our investigators need to make a breakthrough in this case.”
A reward of up to $1 million will be paid at the discretion of the Chief Commissioner of Police, for information leading to the apprehension and subsequent conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of Nick Falos.
The Director of Public Prosecutions may also consider, according to established guidelines, the granting of indemnification from prosecution to any person who provides information as to the identity of the principal offender or offenders in this matter.
Any payment of a reward will be subject to the applicant signing a deed of confidentiality prior to payment.
Anyone with information about the disappearance of Nick Falos is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppers.com.au