Sydney dentist Preethi Reddy was apprehensive about attending the same conference as her ex-boyfriend from Tamworth on Saturday.
Three days later, her body was found stuffed in a suitcase in an abandoned car.
The gruesome discovery followed her former boyfriend fatally driving his BMW into a semi-trailer on the New England Highway near Willow Tree on Monday night.
The 32-year-old South Penrith dentist had been in a tumultuous on-again, off-again long-distance relationship with fellow dentist, Tamworth's Harshwardhan Narde, for several years.
The Sydney Morning Herald understands the couple endured several years of a long-distance relationship after he moved out of Sydney, but last year she ended it.
Friends of the western Sydney woman say that it was an unequivocal decision, and not one that she had re-thought.
"She didn't want to be with him anymore. That was it," a source close to the situation said, adding that Dr Reddy had moved on to a new boyfriend.
However, police believe that Dr Narde travelled the 400 kilometres from Tamworth to St Leonards for the continuing education course with the sole purpose of seeing his ex-girlfriend.
After the day-long conference finished, Dr Reddy's sister Nithya said that Dr Reddy had been at the nearby Hotel Urban St Leonards on Saturday evening.
The next known sighting of Dr Reddy was in the early hours of Sunday morning, when CCTV footage placed her leaving McDonald's on George Street just after 2.15am. Officers believe that she left the fast-food chain alone.
CCTV tracks her walking down Market Street, where she entered the lobby of the upmarket Swissotel.
Police believe she may have gone to the hotel to tell her former boyfriend to leave her alone once and for all, and are now investigating the possibility that Dr Reddy may have been killed inside the hotel.
Police will say Dr Reddy and her former boyfriend “met up in Sydney but we are now looking at all movements between those two to establish what happened,” Detective Superintendent Gavin Dengate told reporters on Wednesday.
Her phone was last used on Sunday at 1.47pm on George Street.
Dr Reddy's family reported her missing on Sunday afternoon when she failed to return after a late breakfast in the city as planned, which they said was very out of character and "concerning".
On Tuesday night, the Reddy family received the devastating news that police had discovered the body of their "sweet, smiling angel".
The dentist's remains had been stuffed in a suitcase in the boot of her late-model Volkswagen Golf abandoned on a Kingsford street. She had been stabbed "numerous times", officers said.
Dr Narde swerved his BMW into the path of an oncoming semi-trailer in what police say was a "deliberate" act on Monday night. He died at the scene of the crash.
A since-deleted post on the Oasis Smiles Dental Facebook page on Tuesday night before Dr Reddy's body was found said it was with "great sadness we announce the tragic passing of our beloved Harsh".
"We will miss him beyond words. He touched many peoples lives and we will always remember him with his big cheeky smile," the surgery said.
Police had interviewed him as a "standard" procedure after Dr Reddy's disappearance was reported.
"At that time it was still a missing person’s inquiry,” Detective Superintendent Dengate said.
He said telling Dr Reddy’s parents of her death is the “toughest thing you can ever do”.
“I have goose bumps talking about it,” he said.
As a parent, the worst thing we can do is bury our kids. It’s a space none of us want to be in.Detective Superintendent Gavin Dengate
"As a parent, the worst thing we can do is bury our kids. It’s a space none of us want to be in."
More than a dozen mourners gathered at the family's South Penrith home on Wednesday.
It was an emotional scene, with several people fielding phone calls from other distraught parties, while others resorted to simply walking up and down the road.
Family friend Navniit Anand said Dr Reddy was "a lovely human being" and her family was "shattered". "It takes a lot of effort to be a dentist and she achieved it ... the family's so proud that they had a daughter like that," Mr Anand told reporters.
Friends of Dr Reddy said that she was a "gem" of a person who will be mourned.
"It's a great shock to hear about my beloved friend, she was such a fun-loving person. Losing her like this is unbearable," her fellow Manipal University alumnus told the Herald.
Support is available for those who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800; beyondblue 1300 224 636; Domestic Violence Line 1800 65 64 63; 1800-RESPECT 1800 737 732