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What Really Happened To Phoebe Handsjuk?

The Melbourne girl's family suspect foul play was involved in her death

It’s been nearly six years since Phoebe Handsjuk died – and her family is anything but at peace over the circumstances surrounding her death.

Phoebe was just 24 when her body was discovered in the refuse room of a luxury Melbourne apartment after falling 11 floors down the garbage chute.

While police initially believed she had taken her own life, and failed to collect CCTV footage from the building and analyse blood found in the apartment where she lived with her boyfriend, Phoebe’s family believe foul play was involved in her death.

“It is the truth we are missing here,” Phoebe’s mother Natalie Handsjuk tells Marie Claire. “I feel absolutely sure she didn’t put herself down that chute, either accidentally or on purpose.”

Phoebe with her mum, Natalie

Handsjuk was found in the basement of the luxury Balancea building on St Kilda Road on December 2, 2010. 

She had fallen up to 40m down the rubbish chute and severed her foot. It later emerged that she bled to death as a result of the injury.

Her death was ruled as an accident by the coroner. However, Phoebe’s mother, Natalie, and her grandfather Lorne Campbell, a retired detective, conducted their own investigation into her death.

Lorne believes there is “no way” Phoebe could have climbed inside the chute of her own accord. The toxicology report showed she had a blood alcohol level of 0.16 and had consumed the prescription sedative Stilnox. To determine whether Phoebe could have climbed into the chute unassisted, he attached safety harnesses to two of her friends and tested them on a replica. They were sober and athletic but could only climb in with great difficulty, and only after using their hands around the spring-loaded hatch. 

“Right from the start, I believed she had been murdered,” Lorne tells marie claire.

Read Marie Claire’s November issue, on sale October 6, for a full report on the mystery surrounding Phoebe Handsjuk’s death. 

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