Novy Chardon: The final fateful year of her life
SHE was single, a devoted mother, had tasted love again with a man much younger than her husband, and with a new beauty business bubbling away was beginning a new life.
Before watching the New Year's Eve fireworks at Kurrawa, 34-year-old beauty therapist Novy Chardon Facebooked her friends. The start of her new life. But just more than a month later her disappearance would spark one of the Gold Coast's biggest missing person investigations.
"Dinner with my babies - bless them at River Panang (restaurant),'' she wrote.
They were a tight threesome - the 34-year-old Coomera mother, daughter Channelle, then 9, and son Alex two years younger - and celebrated right to the end.
Three days before opening their presents, Mrs Chardon took her children on a drive to discover the city's festive lights.
"I have got the most precious gift from Santa . . . kiss and cuddles and spend time to open a Christmas presie (sic) with my babies,'' she wrote.
A Bulletin investigation found the final months leading up to Mrs Chardon's disappearance in early February 2013 leaned and rolled between a loving ride with her children while negotiating a difficult divorce.
Her journey reveals no signs of ending business, no notes left giving clues that she had lost her humour. Her friends had no underlying fears of her failing in a fight to begin a new chapter.
On her Facebook page started in 2011, Mrs Chardon listed her status as "single''.
None of the more than 350 photographs, taken with her iPhone, feature Loganholme INOX lubricant creator and millionaire John Chardon.
He was her first love, husband and 31 years her senior. Chardon was on business in Indonesia in 2001, when Novy, 24, was working in guest relations for a Sheraton hotel.
But friends immediately feared the worst when Novy was reported missing.
A female friend, who spoke to Mrs Chardon every day, told the Bulletin soon after her disappearance: "The reason I reported her to police, I'm concerned about her. I don't want to go into details of their relationship. I'm concerned that she didn't contact me in three days.''
The Supreme Court in Brisbane, where Chardon has been defending the charge of murdering his wife, has been told the pair had agreed to live separately under the same roof.
Chardon had pleaded not guilty to the charge of killing his wife on or about February 6, 2013. Just before 3pm today, a jury found him guilty of manslaughter.
Novy had dated another man in early 2012 but they later agreed to separate. Chardon maintained he was not jealous about the relationship - he was exploring Asian dating websites.
But what do Novy's photographs tell us?
They document birthday parties bursting with the smiles of young children, intimate family reunions in Indonesia and shopping trips to Sydney with a girlfriend exploring ideas for beauty products.
"It's not her business,'' the close friend said. "It was a hobby. She wanted to do something. She started with eyelash extensions and was looking at doing hair extensions as well.
"She was very happy, very outgoing. She will get on with everyone and anyone. The last time I spoke to her she was perfectly fine.''
Some photographs taken 12 months before her disappearance show Mrs Chardon looking at ease, a generous smile as she stands close to a male student, one of her many young Jakarta friends.
"I know she had a boyfriend,'' a family source said after police launched their investigation. "She was getting herself organised to leave. John was spewing about it. She's a young, attractive woman.''
Senior police only viewed that relationship as a sign that Mrs Chardon could move forward in her life. The former boyfriend was never a suspect.
Just before Christmas, Novy posted a quote on the website Notebook of Love. It says, in part: "When I'm alone, I think. When I remember, I feel pain. When I feel pain, I cry. When I cry, I can't stop.''
Friends responding to the post wrote in Indonesian that she should show patience and pray. One translated post read: "God willing, finished anyway.''
By early January Novy had focused on her business, sending numerous posts about cheap split-end gel and offering her expanding circle of friends some "cute BlackBerry cases''.
On February 3, on her mobile telephone at Pimpama, she acknowledged taking an important step. "Finally have my own ABN,'' she wrote.
Later that day, written in Indonesian at Broadbeach, she was on Facebook before saying "Sorry, my iPhone crashed.'' It was her last post.
Novy had met with a lawyer and a legal letter was sent to Chardon.
She told a neighbour that "she feared for her life". If she did not return from an overseas trip, she said "John had probably killed her, or organised for her to be killed".
Novy's mother Estralita Aler and her brother Yoshy Mansur knew of her fears. "She was afraid and scared about the pistol," Ms Aler said, referring to a weapon owned by her husband which was missing.
The meeting with the lawyer was about 12.30pm. Novy and her daughter went to a friend's place to prepare an affidavit for the divorce proceedings.
After dropping her daughter home just before 9pm, she drove to Runaway Bay to meet friends at a Thai restaurant.
Chardon would tell police when Novy returned home - it was between 10.30 and 11pm - she said she had to "go away".
He told police he took a sleeping tablet. He remarked about the shorts she was wearing - Chardon remarked about them making her look like a "hooker".
Forensic tests later found urine in the carpet in the master bedroom. Crown prosecutor Mark Green put it to Chardon that his wife had "wet herself" when "you were doing whatever you did to her". Chardon denied this.
The next day her late model Volvo was abandoned near the Nerang railway station. Her mobile phone, wallet, computer tablet and suitcases, were missing.
Family members know Novy would have never left the kids. The children soon boarded a flight to Indonesia - with their father. On February 10, police issued a missing-person report.
CCTV cameras captured Novy refuelling her car at a Coomera service station and stopping at a McDonald's drive-through on the way to Runaway Bay.
A frozen, frosty and now final image showed her in a grey singlet top and the red shorts, the ones Chardon had remarked about.
On her Facebook page, Mrs Chardon nominated Eat Pray Love, the story about a woman unhappy in marriage who takes off on a world trip to "find herself'' as her favourite book.
Novy Chardon, when finally trying to find her real self, away from her husband, encountered death.