Originally published at The Age:

Homicide detectives have taken over the investigation of the disappearance of a woman who went missing from the city’s south-east almost a month ago, saying she had left home briefly before but this time was different.

Mother-of-two Zahara Rahimzadegan, who is also known as Mandy Ahmadi, was last seen at her home in High Street Road, Ashwood, at 2.30pm on December 16. She disappeared, police say, leaving behind everything except her mobile phone.

Friend Rueben Neelshan Sarvananthan said he had noticed nothing amiss when he had lunch with her and her husband the previous week. He said Ms Ahmadi, 46, who had co-founded a refugee aid agency with Dandenong’s Cornerstone Church, was passionate about helping others because when she had arrived as a refugee from Iran in 1999, there had been little support.

”She’s a good girl, very bubbly, very joyful, very helpful,” Mr Sarvananthan said.

Her husband, Nathan Ahmadi, told The Age earlier this week that he feared she had been abducted by extremists because of her attempts to convert Muslims to Christianity, as she herself had in 2004.

But homicide squad Detective Inspector John Potter yesterday said police had found no evidence to support the allegation. ”Bear in mind we don’t know what happened to her, but we’ve checked that suggestion out and we don’t believe that has happened,” he said.

Inspector Potter said Ms Ahmadi had previously left for short periods because of ”issues” at home but she had always told her sons, aged 15 and 11, where she was. ”She has missed Christmas, she has been missing now for nearly four weeks … this time it’s quite serious.”

Her bank accounts have not been accessed and her purse, including credit cards, was left at her home, police said. She has not contacted anyone since her disappearance.

Mr Ahmadi said he had dropped her off at home after a morning at the refugee centre and she was gone when he returned 45 minutes later.

Police investigated whether recent changes to her Facebook account could provide a clue, but Inspector Potter said the changes had been automatic. ”We don’t believe she was online … We are told they are normal deletions and insertions as part of her subscription.”