By DANIELLE GALVIN
IF there was a moment in time when Pakenham lost its innocence, it was last Thursday afternoon.
Those are the words from real estate principal and long-time resident Keith Popovits in the wake of the murder of 42-year-old mother-of-three Kylie Blackwood.
His comments came as police identified a person of interest in the case. A Pakenham man’s home CCTV footage offered police potential new leads as the community rallied to raise funds for the devastated family.
Mr Popovits, who has lived in Pakenham for 48 years, has known the Blackwood family for 16 years.
He was able to articulate the sentiment that many haven’t been able to around town – Pakenham will never be the same following the horrific murder of a ‘regular suburban’ mother of three.
“I know people who have lived here for 60 years, who have had enough… they are selling up,” he said.
“I had someone call me yesterday in tears, saying they just wanted to get out.”
Mr Popovits said he warned his 84-year-old mother who also lived in Pakenham to lock her doors at all times.
“That’s not the Pakenham I know – we used to leave our doors open, our cars unlocked, we’d go to the shops and leave the car running, not anymore,” he said.
“I went over to my mum’s house and the door was unlocked – I said to her she has to snip it now,” he said.
The Blackwood and Whitta (Kylie’s maiden name) families are well-known in the shire and Mr Popovits said the impact of the vicious attack would be felt across the community.
“People in town no longer feel safe,” he said.
“This is far-reaching; they are a very well-known family, they played sports, their families have lived in the area for years.
“This has taken a huge personal toll on everyone who knows them.”
Mr Popovits said the local real estate industry was in shock.
“This has absolutely consumed us,” he said.
“People aren’t sleeping.”
For more coverage on the murder, turn to pages 8 and 9.