A body found in a wheelie bin at a storage facility in Melbourne’s south-east has been identified as a graphic artist who disappeared under suspicious circumstances 17 years ago.
Workers found the remains, which had decomposed, while clearing out the warehouse on Milgate St, Oakleigh South, earlier this month.
The missing persons squad has now identified the body as John Christianos, who went missing on June 11, 2001.
Victoria Police said the 40-year-old was last seen at his home at a facility on Warrigal Road, in Bentleigh East, where he lived alone.
“John had been born in South Australia and over the years had become estranged from his family, who he hadn’t had contact with for some time leading up to his disappearance,” police said.
“He was reported missing by other residents at the facility.
“John was employed as a graphic artist at the time of his disappearance and was known to be a caricature artist of some skill.
“He had a history of contact with police across various states for a range of matters including drug use and assaults.”
Police at the scene at a warehouse after the remains were found earlier this month. (ABC News: James Oaten)
Police held a public appeal for information at the time he went missing, and had believed it to be suspicious.
Investigators are continuing to treat it as suspicious, police said.
In 2011 the coroner found Mr Christianos was likely to have died after his disappearance, but could not ascertain the cause, location or circumstances of his death.
‘This might feel like the right time to come forward’
Mr Christianos’ body was found by workers while they were cleaning out the storage facility, which had been recently sold.
One of the workers, Anton Hillemacher, said the remains were covered up by soil and grass.
“I’ve looked in this container and there’s a wheelie bin in there and it had a strap around it, a couple of straps,” he said.
“I’ve cut the straps and the lid’s fallen open and it seemed like there was grass clippings in there, mouldy stuff.
“So we’ve started scraping away and then someone’s sort of said, ‘Oh look, there’s a boot’.”
Police said the unit where the bin was found had not been accessed for many years and rental payments had stopped.
Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper from the missing persons squad urged anyone with information to contact them.
“Even though it has been over 17 years since he was last seen, we believe that it is likely there are still people out there who know what happened to John,” he said.
“As we always say, circumstances and relationships change and this might feel like the right time for those people to come forward with information.
“Clearly something significant has happened after John left his home for his body to be dumped in a bin and locked up for so many years.”