A distraught Melbourne family have made a desperate plea for their daughter to come home after she went missing with her new husband in Italy nine years ago.
The Montesalvo family say Courtney has mental health issues and they fear she is not taking her medication.
When the family tracked her down to a small Italian city they were shocked at what they found. Courtney, who they say was happy in Australia, was pacing around a tennis court seemingly in a stupor. But she refused to engage with her Australian family and accused them of “stalking”.
“It was hard because that’s not my sister. She was completely different and she just kept walking and ignoring us,” sister Claudia told A Current Affair.
The Montesalvos remain baffled as to why they have been cut off from Courtney.
“I’ve got this funny feeling we’re never going to see her again,” Courtney’s mother Jody said.
Courtney met husband Matteo Pomponio online in 2012 and a few months later he flew to Melbourne to get married.
Jody’s first impression of her daughter’s husband to be was of a “sweet and innocent” man.
However, the Montesalvos were immediately concerned about Courtney’s oddly deferential behaviour towards Matteo.
Courtney had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was a teenager. After the birth of her child she was subsequently diagnosed with post-natal psychosis which left her hospitalised.
In 2014, without a word to her mum and dad, Courtney boarded a plane with her son and husband and left for Italy.
Their phones were turned off, social media profiles closed down and they refused to be contacted.
“It was like they were ghosting us,” said sister Kylie.
Desperate, the family eventually hired an Italian private investigator to track Courtney down. They succeeded and dad Rob and sister Claudia flew to Italy to speak to Courtney, who was living with her husband’s parents.
When they arrived, they found her aimlessly wandering around a sports field in an almost catatonic state.
“I just sat in the car and couldn’t stop crying. All I thought of was that movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. She was just walking in circles,” Rob said.
When they confronted her, Courtney was insistent she did not want to return to her family.
“My choice is to have nothing to do with you because you ruined my life in the past and I don’t want to have anything to do with you,” she told them when they filmed the meeting.
“You should accept that and leave me alone because it’s called stalking”.
It’s left the Montesalvos devastated. They insist they have no idea what they could have done that would make her leave Australia and cut off all contact with them.
“She doesn’t look like that; she doesn’t speak like that; she’s totally different,” said Rob.
Sister Kylie told ACA of her worst fears.
“I fear that she’s mentally unwell and that maybe’s she hurt herself. And she not with us – that’s my fear”.
The Department of Foreign Affairs have said they are providing consular assistance to the Montesalvo family.
“They don’t realise what they’ve done to our family. It’s affected us so much,” said mum Jody.
“I just wasn’t my daughter home where we can love and look after her because she’s not well.”
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