Stacey Miller could never have known it would be the last conversation she'd have with her little sister - the girl she'd protected when she was bullied at school, the woman who she tried to save from a spiral of drug addiction and the sex work she turned to pay for it.

If she could, she'd take back that last angry call in 2003, in which Stacey tells Channel Nine's true crime series Murder Calls: "We had a massive fight and I told her I hated her. I told her to go hang herself. Called her a junkie."

Stacey cries as she remembers that call, before the world stopped making sense and her beloved sister's body was found naked, wrapped in a blanket, on a roadside outside Melbourne on August 26, 2003.

"I shouldn't have done it and I was totally in the wrong and I hope my sister knows how sorry I am and how sorry I have been every day since," says Stacey.

Advertisement

Her tearful revelation words come as part of a gripping and raw instalment of Murder Calls which details how police delivered on a promise to Kelly's family.

When she disappeared while working St Kilda's sex strip on August 18, 2003, many were quick to judge. As police doorknocked the area, some said "why are you worried about her, she's just a sex worker?"

But as former Victorian Police Homicide Detective Charlie Bezzina tells the show: "We don't care. The family needs answers".

Kelly had met a brutal end, dying of massive head injuries, her body battered and bloody, then dumped.

Stacey Miller and her and Kelly's uncle, Raymond Hodge, make a public appeal for help during the murder investigation. Photo / News Corp Australia
Stacey Miller and her and Kelly's uncle, Raymond Hodge, make a public appeal for help during the murder investigation. Photo / News Corp Australia

Stacey heard the barbs as the investigation unfolded, but the family took strength from police working the case: "Whenever we met Charlie Bezzina he reassured us that they would work around the clock and investigate as they would every other murder."

And work they did - for more than two painstaking months as public appeals and tip-offs threw forward a host of suspects, all of which, the show reveals, fit the bill of murderer ... until they didn't.

The calls come from psychologists, unwitting witnesses, Kelly's phone company ... even, it turns out, the murderer himself.

As the police investigation, aided by nuggets of information gleaned from phone calls is reconstructed, Stacey reveals a woman who struggled to beat heroin addiction and was so many more things then the labels assigned to her.

Troubled and in trouble with drugs, and working as a sex worker, yes. But loved, by the grandmother that raised her, the big sister who was hard on her because all she wanted was her life to be better, and many others.

Kelly went missing on August, and her body was not found until a week later, the discovery made by a motorist on his way home, who thought he saw a bag on the side of the road, but proved to be Kelly's marked body, wrapped in a red rug, dumped.

"He threw her on the side of the road like she was garbage," Stacy says. "Maybe she was garbage to him, but she wasn't garbage to us."

She recalls her sister growing up as "exquisitely sensitive, emotionally and physically" and "the only person I know who could pick up a snail, pat it and say 'aren't you beautiful'?"

Stacey was aware of her sister's drug problems, but despite that, knew when she when she went missing, failing to return home to her grandmother's house in Coburg that it was "out of character".

After a day of silence, she was "cross" with Kelly, leaving an string of increasingly angry voicemail messages on her unanswered phone.

Murder victim Kelly Hodge. Photo / Channel 9
Murder victim Kelly Hodge. Photo / Channel 9

She wanted to report Kelly missing, but her grandmother said no, fearing Kelly would be angry if she wasn't missing.

Kelly had been missing for a week when Stacey resolved to go to St Kilda to look for her.

She never got the chance. The next, police came calling at 5am with the terrible news.

"There was banging on the front door ... I thought it was one of my obnoxious friends from uni," she tells Murder Calls. "It was the police. 'It's about Kelly', I said. 'She's dead isn't she? ... or a drug overdose?' And he (the police officer) said 'no she's been murdered.'

"I couldn't believe it."

It took more than two months for police to track down Novika Jakimov.

Murder Calls reveals how public appeals, a string of phone calls, and details from Kelly's own phone finally led them to their man.

Even the hardened Bezzina appears to have something in his eye as he emotionally details being able to tell Stacey and her grandmother they had finally found the man responsible.

Police reveal Jakimov came to their attention after Kelly's phone company said her phone had been switched back on in the months after she was killed.

The trail they follow to him is as brutal as it is intriguing.

Jakimov was sentenced to 19 years for Kelly murder, and is eligible for parole next year.

"At the time I viewed the sentence through the eyes of a law student, as well as the sister of someone who has been murdered. As a law student I thought it was a very good outcome, it was a reasonably lengthy sentence for what he has done," Stacey tells Murder Calls.

"However as the sister of someone who was hurt like that, it's not enough.

"I've struggled to articulate this. I think if I die I want to be surrounded by kind faces. When my sister died, the only face she saw was the face of a murderer. How alone she must have felt."