Update: A man has reportedly been arrested over the brutal murder of Aiia Maasarwe. Homicide detectives moved on a man this morning, two days after the killing of the 21-year-old student at Bundoora, The Herald Sun reports. “The arrest followings an extensive investigation into Aiia’s death following the discovery of her body near Main Drive and Plenty Road in Bundoora on Wednesday 16 January about 7am,” a Victoria Police statement read. “Police would like to thank the public for their assistance with the investigation.”
A young woman found dead near a tram stop in Melbourne's north has been identified as Israeli student, Aiia Maasarwe.
The 21-year-old student was in Melbourne on a study program and was understood to have been on her way home from a comedy show when she was killed.
According to Maasarwe's social media pages, she had been studying Chinese and English at Shanghai University and then spent several months in Melbourne on an overseas program at La Trobe University.
Detectives believe Maasarwe may have been stalked in the lead-up to her death, and they are investigating the possibility that she was also sexually assaulted.
Maasarwe was also believed to be on FaceTime with her sister when the brutal attack occurred, Maasarwe's uncle Rame Maasarwe said.
“She was talking to her sister and seemed okay, but then her phone fell and then she heard different voices,” Mr Maasarwe told the Herald Sun.
Investigators have released images of a t-shirt and cap which were found at the scene.
“We are treating it as suspicious. It’s apparent or it seems that the female has been assaulted,” Inspector Andrew Stamper told reporters near the scene on Wednesday.
Another of Ms Maasarwe's uncles, Abed Katane, told Israeli news outlet Haaretz her family was in shock.
“She was an excellent student, full of life, and was in a country that was not dangerous at all, to say the least. And despite that, we get this incredibly painful news,” he said.
“It’s the kind of thing you never expect.”
Maasarwe's father has made his way to Melbourne to make arrangements for Aia's body to be returned home.
Maasarwe's uncle, Rame, told The Age the talented student was a friendly person who liked to travel, adding that she had done a tandem skydive along the Great Ocean Road and visited local sites including the Shrine of Remembrance.
“She’s positive, she likes to have fun, she’s a very friendly person you know. She’s a good sister,” he said. “I was very proud of her, she was a very good person, a very loving person.
“She liked to discover new things, see new places. She travelled all over the world.”
Detectives are keen to speak to anyone who travelled on the route 86 tram, particularly between 11 pm on Tuesday and 1 am on Wednesday.
“We would ask for anyone that may have dashcam footage, CCTV or may have seen anything here that could be a small piece in the jigsaw puzzle to contact Crimestoppers,” Insp Stamper said.
If you have any information please contact Crime Stoppers Victoria, 1800 333 000.