A body found in Melbourne’s north this morning is that of woman who police believe was assaulted before she died.
Homicide squad detectives suspect the woman caught the Route 86 tram from Docklands to Bundoora about 11pm on Tuesday and are appealing for any other passengers on the tram late last night to come forward.
The woman is yet to be formally identified and police are treating her death as suspicious. Tradesmen found her body in scrub about 7am, near a shopping centre.
Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper told reporters at the scene investigators have not ruled out the possibility the woman was sexually assaulted, but would not comment on the specifics as it was too early in the investigation.
“We are treating it as suspicious. It’s apparent or it seems that the woman has been assaulted and that’s really all I am prepared to say at this stage,” he said.
The woman was found unresponsive in bush metres away from the Polaris Town Centre shopping complex.
Police were called to Main Drive near Plenty Road in Bundoora after the discovery.
Detective Inspector Stamper said police were focusing on the time between 11pm Tuesday and 1am on Wednesday.
Police are also probing whether the victim was followed off a tram by her attacker.
“We’d like anyone who may have been travelling on the number 86 tram which runs from the city to Bundoora, particularly from the times between 11pm and 1am this morning to again, if they saw anything suspicious, if they saw anyone get off at this location to contact Crime Stoppers.”
Detective Inspector Stamper also urged anyone who may have been driving in the area at the time and witnessed anything suspicious to contact police.
“A full canvas will be taken, all the local residents will be spoken to,” Detective Inspector Stamper said.
“We really need the public’s help with this one, we ask anyone who may have dashcam footage, CCTV footage or who has seen anything that could be a small piece in the jigsaw puzzle to contact Crime Stoppers.”
He declined to say whether police believed it was a “random attack” citing that it was too early in the investigation to determine.
The woman’s body was found near a bush next to the shopping centre which is just metres away from a tram stop on the corner of Plenty Road and Main Drive.
Detective Inspector Stamper said that given the victim’s close proximity to the tramstop it was an “active line of inquiry” that she may have been on the tram on Tuesday night.
Nobody had yet been arrested over the woman’s death.
He declined to speculate on the circumstances of the attack or the victim’s age.
“What I can I assure the community is that we are all working really hard to get the answers,” he said. “When we know more, we will provide more, but as always our focus is on catching the perpetrators of these crimes.”
A section surrounding the shopping centre has been cordoned off as detectives probe the scene.
An SES tent has also been set-up in the middle the scene as detectives search through nearby scrub and take photographs of the area.
Forensic police arrived at the scene shortly before 11am.
Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
-Melissa Cunningham, The Age