January 17, 2019 10:09:20
Floral tributes have been laid where a woman’s body was found yesterday in Melbourne, as police investigate whether she was sexually assaulted after getting off a tram.
- The woman’s body was found by passers-by about 7:00am yesterday
- Women who work on early shifts nearby said the death had hit close to home
- Police are urging anyone who travelled on the Route 86 tram on Tuesday night to contact them
Several Israeli media outlets have identified the victim as a 21-year-old university student studying at Shanghai University, who had come to Melbourne for a study-abroad program.
Tel Aviv-based newspaper Haaretz reported that the woman’s family was in contact with the Israeli embassy to organise the return of her body.
Passers-by found the woman’s body about 7:00am yesterday behind a hedge near the Polaris shopping centre near Plenty Road in Bundoora.
Police said yesterday the woman appeared to have been assaulted and said that there was an “active line of inquiry” into whether she was sexually assaulted.
La Trobe and RMIT universities both have campuses in Bundoora, making the northern suburb a popular place for students to live.
RMIT University has confirmed to the ABC that they have not been contacted by police over the death. La Trobe declined to comment.
‘We want to stick together’
Three women who work at the nearby shops visited the spot where the body was found and laid roses and tulips on milk crates.
Kylie Fitzgerald, who works at a supermarket, said she felt it was important to lay the tributes as a mark of solidarity.
“It just saddens you … we just wanted to stand together as a community of women and just come down and pay our respects,” she said.
“As women we stick together, and we feel it. It happens to a lot of people but when it hits so close to home, it really affects you.
“Especially for, I suppose, the ladies that have to start quite early in the morning and it’s quite dark when you come into work, so it is frightening.”
Becky Blenner, who works at a coffee shop, said her work shifts often start when it is still dark.
“I start work at 5:30 in the morning, me and another girl as well … it’s scary,” she said.
“We feel sorry for her, we want to stick together, it’s sad, it’s horrible.”
Police man tram stop
Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said yesterday that investigators were trying to determine whether the woman may have been attacked after getting off the Route 86 tram, which has a stop less than 100 metres from where her body was found.
“We’re working really hard to get the answers to that, but obviously with the proximity to the tram stop, that’s an active line of inquiry at the moment,” he said.
“Anyone who may have been travelling on the number 86 tram … if they saw anything suspicious, if they saw anyone get off the tram at this location [please contact us].”
Detectives are also keen to speak to anyone who was in the area near the Polaris shopping centre, or driving through it, between 11:00pm Tuesday night and 1:00am Wednesday morning.
“We really need the community’s assistance with this,” Detective Inspector Stamper said.
“We would ask for anyone that may have dash cam footage, CCTV, may have seen anything here, that could be a small piece in the jigsaw puzzle, to contact Crime Stoppers.”
Police have increased their presence in the area following the death, with officers stationed at the nearby tram stop last night.
Detectives and other uniformed police were seen continuing to gather evidence from the scene overnight.
January 17, 2019 08:52:01