Kim Kasatkin was in an “extremely volatile” relationship with her common-law spouse, but she wouldn’t leave because he wouldn’t allow their two children to be taken out of Peru, her family said Thursday at a press conference.
Kim’s spouse, Christopher Franz Bettocchi, 38, has been charged with her murder and is awaiting trial in Peru.
Her family spoke publicly this week, during a press conference at the Abbotsford Police Department (APD), for the first time since Bettocchi’s arrest in late February.
Kim’s parents, Kathleen and Al Kasatkin of Abbotsford, initially went public on Jan. 11, when they appealed for information about their daughter. The family last had contact with her on Nov. 26, 2016, when she had a FaceTime (video conversation) call with her two sisters.
Kim’s mom, Kathleen, spoke Thursday about what happened in the days following that conversation, when family members could no longer reach Kim, 41.
She had met Bettocchi in Victoria in 2009, and they lived in Africa for three years before moving to Lima, Peru, where he was from. They had two kids together – a boy, now 7, and a girl, age 3.
Kathleen said Bettocchi notified the family via email that Kim had abandoned him and the kids, leaving when he was not at home.
Kathleen said she had six phone conversations with Bettocchi over the next day, and she became increasingly suspicious about his behaviour. She phoned the APD and reported Kim as a missing person.
Kathleen and Al then travelled to Peru to seek answers in their daughter’s disappearance and to pressure authorities to investigate the case more deeply.
The family had concerns because Kim had confided in them that the relationship was verbally, and sometimes physically, abusive.
“Kim was 100 per cent under his control. She was financially dependent on him, socially dependent on him and emotionally dependent on him,” Kathleen said.
“She didn’t speak Spanish. She had no access to money so the idea that she would just disappear to go off somewhere on her own just didn’t make sense.”
Kathleen and Al said they believe that charges would not have been laid if they hadn’t gone to Peru.
Al said that within two days of their arrival, authorities asked them to view security video taken in the building where Kim and Bettocchi lived.
Online reports from Peruvian media indicate that the footage includes that of a man, believed to be Bettocchi, dragging a heavy bag or box across the parking garage and loading it into a vehicle before driving off.
Kathleen and Al stated Thursday that Bettocchi was further linked to the crime by blood evidence in his vehicle, the couple’s home and the building’s elevator and other public areas.
They are now hoping that further evidence will lead to the discovery of Kim’s body. Kathleen is returning to Peru next month with that possibility in mind.
The family also hopes to be able to eventually bring Kim’s children, who are currently living with Bettocchi’s mom, to Canada. (Kim also has two older children, ages 23 and 18, who live locally.)
Kathleen and Al said the tragedy has been devastating for all who loved Kim, including her four siblings and grandparents, who were also at the press conference.
“This family has been torn apart … Kim was a loving person. She was a happy person. She made us laugh … She just loved life.”
Bettocchi remains in custody in Peru, with his trial expected to begin as early as July. His lawyer tried to appeal the charges two weeks ago, on the basis that they were not properly notified of the viewing of the video evidence, but that appeal was dismissed.