Tongan man sent back to Australia to face trial over 1990 murder

Rita Caleo and her brother Dr Michael Chye were killed in 1990s. Photo/NSW Police


A Tongan man has been deported to Australia to face the trial for the murder of Rita Caleo, 39, who was stabbed to death in the main bedroom metres away from where her daughters slept on August 1990.

Her brother, Dr Michael Chye, 36, was found murdered in his garage with two gunshot wounds to his head in October 1989.

The Tongan national was expected to be charged with Mrs Caleo’s murder in the cold-case investigation.

Police believe he was the hitman and was driven to and from the home by one of two men accused of organising the murder.

Those two men were arrested in August 2014 and February this year, Australian media reported.

One of them was Mark Caleo, 52, Rita’s former husband and he was charged with two counts of both murder and solicit to murder and organising the deaths of his wife Rita Caleo and her brother, Dr Michael Chye.

The Tongan man was arrested in the kingdom on September 30. He had been  deported from Australia in the 1990s over a robbery offence.

His name has not released for legal reasons. He is due to face court at the end of this month.

An inquest into Dr Chye’s death in 1991 found that he and his sister and a man had been involved in a dispute over a $3.6 million waterfront property at Blakehurst, in Sydney’s south.

During the investigation into the double murder, Police received a letter from Mrs Caleo’s solicitor in which she implicated two suspects in the organisation of her brother’s murder.

According to Australian media, Mrs Caleo handed the letter to her solicitor on May 1990.

In the envelope a note was stapled in the front saying: “To be opened only if my death has been deemed unnatural”.

Police offered AU$50,000 (TP$82,000) reward money for any information about Mr Chye’s murder.

The NSW Unsolved Homicide Team reopened the case in 2011.

The main points

  • A Tongan man has been deported to Australia to face the trial for the murder of Rita Caleo, 39, who was stabbed to death in the main bedroom metres away from where her daughters slept on August 1990.
  • Her brother, Dr Michael Chye, 36, was found murdered in his garage with two gunshot wounds to his head in October 1989.
  • The Tongan national was expected to be charged with Mrs Caleo’s murder in the cold-case investigation.
  • Police believe he was the hitman and was driven to and from the home by one of two men accused of organising the murder.

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