The last time Nicola Komiazyk spoke to her mother, it was on Mother’s Day.
“[My parents] were murdered just a few days later,” Ms Komiazyk told news.com.au on Friday.
“She said: ‘I love you very much’. Those were her last words to me. This weekend is going to be very hard for me. It’s always a very emotional day.”
Nicola’s parents, Terence and Christine Hodson, were killed in their Kew East home in Melbourne in 2004. Their murders came mere months before Terence – a police corruption witness – was due to give evidence in a criminal trial against a powerful former Victorian drug squad detective.
“Dad said he was a dead man walking but I don’t think he thought mum would be killed too,” Ms Komiazyk told news.com.au.
“After they were murdered, I lived in fear,” Ms Komiazyk told news.com.au journalist Marnie O’Neill.
“I never used to leave the house. It was a very scary time for me because I had just had my first child and it was as if the whole world had left us alone.”
The brutality of the murders – reports at the time described the killings as ‘execution like’ – would prompt the Victorian government to establish the Office of Police Integrity to investigate the leaking of sensitive, confidential police information to the criminal underworld.
Wednesday was another emotional day for Nicola and her siblings Andrew and Mandy, who learned the prime suspect in their parents’ murders, a seasoned hitman named Rodney Collins, had died of cancer behind bars.
But the 72-year-old was serving a life sentence not for killing Terence and Christine, but for the murders of mother and son Dorothy and Ramon Abbey some seven years prior.
In a cruel twist of fate, the murder case against Rodney Collins fell through after the death of gangland boss Carl Williams; the underworld figure was a central component in the investigation, telling police he had arranged the incident after crooked policeman Paul Dale paid him $150,000 for the killing of Terence Hodson.
Christine, it became clear, was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Both Collins and Dale insisted their innocence and, eventually, the case was dropped.
While nothing will soothe Nicola’s ongoing grief, the knowledge that her parents’ likely killer is dead is a relief.
“I was happy to hear he had died because it means he can’t hurt other families like he hurt ours and those of god knows who else he murdered,” she said.