Valeria Fermendjin murder: family speaks of their pain on what would have been Mama’s 71st birthday

Valeria Fermendjin murder: family speaks of their pain on what would have been Mama’s 71st birthday

MELVILLE grandmother Valeria Fermendjin should have celebrated her 71st birthday today.

Instead, daughter Violeta and twin eight-year-old grandsons Joshua and Ashley will visit the grave of their much-loved “Mama”, murdered in cold blood in a home burglary turned violent on January 5.

Born in Romania in 1945, Mrs Fermendjin followed her husband to Australia in search of a better life in 1983, along with then teenaged daughter Violeta.

Mrs Fermendjin was a dressmaker by trade but was forced to give up her job after a car accident in 1991 tore all the ligaments in her right ankle, leaving her unable to work the pedal.

Just five months later, her husband was tragically killed in an industrial accident.

“Mum and dad had a few friends that were Romanian but after my dad passed away mum didn’t really keep in touch with any of them,” Violeta said.

“They were all couples and she felt like the third wheel, so she just sort of kept to herself and became a bit more reclusive.”

When Violeta and husband Ivan bought a Sydney business and moved over east in 1996, Mrs Fermendjin started a small cottage industry of her own, collecting and ironing clothes out of her home.

“The ironing was more just to keep herself busy than to make money but it did become a bit of an obsession,” Violeta said.

“She had about 16 or 17 clients at one stage but that didn’t last for a long time because her health deteriorated a lot.”

Violeta and Ivan returned to Perth in 2001, and in 2007 Mrs Fermendjin found a new obsession when she became a grandmother.

“Once the boys were born, mum was at our house all the time,” Violeta said.

“I had the twins so I couldn’t do everything on my own and my husband worked fly-in, fly-out.

“I couldn’t wash or feed both of them at the same time, so I’d wash one, hand it over to mum and mum would start feeding him while I washed the other one.

“Mum would help me right until I put the boys to bed and only then go home.”

Mrs Fermendjin moved from Kardinya to her Melville home in 2014 – just one day after Violeta and her family had vacated the house for a new one nearby.

“The house that she had in Kardinya was way too big for her – it was on a corner block with five bedrooms and two bathrooms and Mum’s health wasn’t the best,” Violeta said.

Living closer to her daughter and grandchildren, Mrs Fermendjin became even more entwined in their daily lives.

“I was working, so Mum would always pick the boys up from school, feed them and cook dinner,” Violeta said.

“If I said to Mum I had to do something she would always be there to look after the kids.

“For nine years I never had to worry about a thing, because Mum was always there.

“Now, half of the time I honestly forget to pick up the kids and I’m surprised I haven’t got a phone call from the school yet.”

While grandsons Joshua and Ashley were not big fans of Mrs Fermendjin’s traditional Romanian cuisine, she would often prepare a separate dinner just for them.

And the whole family was united in their love of Mrs Fermendjin’s once-a-year birthday cake.

“Mum would bake cakes for all special occasions – birthdays, Christmas, Easter,” Violeta said.

“But there was one specific cake, chocolate ganache with a toffee topping on top of layered biscuits, that would take her literally a whole day to make and so she would only do it once a year.

“We all used to fight over whose birthday she would make it for.”

While Mrs Fermendjin’s death has devastated her whole family, grandsons Joshua and Ashley are dealing with the loss of their Mama in different ways.

“The last time we went to the cemetery Joshua didn’t want to come out of the car which is really unusual,” Violeta said.

“Joshua is holding more back, I know he is missing her but he is not showing it as much whereas Ashley is more open with his feelings.

“One morning Ash was counting the weeks to his birthday and my birthday and when I told him that Mama’s birthday was coming up he just started crying.”

Still owned by Violeta and Ivan, the Leach Highway home where Violeta found her mother’s body is a heartbreaking reminder of wonderful memories turned bad.

“My children were born in that house and I loved it, it was cosy and I got used to the traffic so it never bothered me that it was on the highway,” she said.

“Now, all those memories are tainted.

“I’ve only been into the house once, to collect some of Mum’s clothes for the funeral, and I can’t go near it without feeling like somebody is choking me.”

Six months have passed since Mrs Fermendjin was murdered.

Despite the offer of a $100,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person or person responsible, no arrests have been made.

WA Police remain keen to hear from a mystery caller who provided them with some information on January 13 but has not been back in touch since.

Detectives are also looking for a vintage black Russian handbag, highlighted by embossing, a zip top and a metal buckle, that was stolen from Mrs Fermendjin’s home.

Information received from the public will be treated confidentially and callers to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 can remain anonymous if they wish.