While Queensland’s borders remain closed due to COVID-19, homicide squad boss Detective Inspector Tim Day said they’d called in neighbouring police departments to search for Mr Barbaro across all of Australia with fears he may have fled interstate.
“We have a young female, 26 years of age, who has died prematurely. She has a family who is grieving for her and a community that is needing and deserving of answers,” he said.
“Barbaro, this is not going to go away. This is an opportunity for you to come forward. At this stage we are looking in all states of Australia.”
Mr Barbaro is a scion of the Barbaro crime family, an Australian branch of the Italian mafia, and brother of slain Sydney underworld boss Pasquale Timothy Barbaro, 35, who was gunned down in a 2016 gangland hit.
The Barbaro family, with known links to the Calabrian mafia, are no strangers to the spotlight.
Another of Mr Barbaro’s brothers, Queensland man Rossario Dom Barbaro, took his own life at the age of 28, just months after his older sibling’s 2016 murder.
Harley Barbaro, a 27-year-old Gold Coast man and alleged Villains gang member, is another brother.
All four are sons of Joe Barbaro, a cousin of gangland figure Pasquale Barbaro, who was gunned down alongside Jason Moran in a van while watching a children’s football training session in Essendon in 2003.
Joe Barbaro was jailed in 2005 for six years for his part in an illicit drug ring in Melbourne and Sydney.
His father and his son, both also named Pasquale, were killed in gangland hits – his father in Brisbane in 1990.
In 2004 Joe Barbaro’s baby daughter Montana, then three weeks old, was snatched from her car seat in a Brimbank shopping centre during a brazen kidnapping.
She was found two days later with a shaved head in a derelict house in North Melbourne, after a passerby heard her cries.
In 2012 another related Pasquale Barbaro, the son of Joe’s uncle, was sentenced to life in prison for importing what was then the world’s biggest ecstasy haul into Melbourne.
On Thursday, Detective Inspector Day revealed Ricardo Barbaro had been in a casual relationship with Ms Price since about October 2019.
Family and friends have paid tribute to Ms Price on social media, describing her love of animals, her kind nature and dream of becoming a dancer.
Her mother Tracey Gangell wrote on Facebook: “She was my baby. I am going to miss her”.
Friend Ella Marree wrote: “I’m going to miss you so much you queen. I met you when I was only a little girl and you have left a large imprint on my heart and I’ll never forget you.”
Detective Inspector Day said anyone who might have seen or heard suspicious activity in South Melbourne’s Park and Ferrars streets during the past fortnight should contact police.
“We are looking for information from residents, and people in that area, during the two weeks leading up to April 29,” he said.
“In particular the afternoon of Tuesday the 28th and into the early hours of Wednesday the 29th last week.”
Ricardo Barbaro is described as185 centimetres tall with a solid build, black hair and an olive complexion.
Police said he was known to frequent the north-west and western suburbs of Melbourne and Southport on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Anyone with information on the South Melbourne homicide investigation is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit crimestoppers.com.au.
Erin covers crime for The Age. Most recently she was a police reporter at the Geelong Advertiser.
Chris Vedelago is an investigations reporter for The Age with a special interest in crime and justice.
Senior Crime Reporter