A 20-year-old man has been arrested over the horrific murder of an Israeli student in Melbourne.
Aiia Maasarwe was killed after getting off a tram on her way home from a gig on Tuesday night.
Her partially naked body was found in parkland near a shopping centre on Wednesday morning.
Police said the 21-year-old suffered a ‘horrendous’ assault and launched a widespread hunt for her killer.
Tragic: Aiia Maasarwe (pictured) was murdered and her body was found outside a Melbourne shopping centre on Wednesday
Scene of the crime: Aiia Maasarwe’s partially naked body was found in scrub (pictured) near where she got off a tram the night before
Clues: Police believe a t-shirt and cap found near where her body was discovered belongs to her killer
On Friday a man was arrested in the Melbourne suburb of Greensborough.
He was identified as a person of interest after police forensically tested a hat and T-shirt left at the scene of the crime, it is understood.
‘The 20-year-old was arrested in Greensborough by local police working in partnership with homicide detectives about 11.20am,’ police said in a statement.
Ms Maasarwe had been studying Chinese and English at Shanghai University but moved to Melbourne six months ago to study at LaTrobe University.
The 21-year-old was so scared of the walk from the tram stop to her student accommodation she would call one of her sisters while walking to feel safer, a family member told The Australian.
She was heading home from a comedy gig and was on a FaceTime call with her sister when she was attacked and the phone suddenly dropped, her uncle Rame Masarwe said.
Miss Maasarwe’s sister was still on the phone and heard the entire attack unfold, her uncle said.
‘She seemed very happy. Then the phone fell down, she heard voices. The phone was on.’
Miss Maasarwe was at The Comic’s Lounge in North Melbourne earlier on Tuesday night and caught the 86 tram from Bourke Street in the city.
Miss Maasarwe likely got off the tram in Bundoora near where her body was found, about a kilometre from her student accommodation.
Aiia Maasarwe, 21, had spent the night at a comedy club before boarding the 86 tram from Bourke Street, heading to her home in Bundoora. She left the tram around midnight. Her body was discovered in scrub, nearby, the next day
Aiia Maasarwe’s (left, with a friend) partially naked body was found by window washers in scrub outside the Polaris shopping centre on Main Drive near Plenty Road in the Melbourne suburb of Bundoora at 7am on Wednesday
Homicide detectives have released CCTV images of Miss Maasarwe, which shows the clothing she was wearing that night, in the hope someone saw her and can help police track her exact movements.
Miss Maasarwe was carrying a bag when she was attacked and some items had been removed and were found nearby, police said.
Aya’s final moments:
Aiia was at the The Comic’s Lounge in North Melbourne
11pm: Her friends dropped her to the tram stop
Aiia caught the 86 tram from a Bourke Street stop, heading home
Midnight: Aiia got off the tram in Bundoora, about a kilometre from her home
7am: Her body is found in scrub near the tram stop and Polaris shopping centre
Man, 20, is arrested
Shoes and a mobile phone were found near Miss Maasarwe’s body, as well as an abandoned vehicle with its hazard lights on.
Before the arrest, former homicide detective Charlie Bezzina on Friday morning urged witnesses to come forward to stop the attacker killing again.
‘It’s imperative that those who have knowledge of some sort assist police,’ he told radio station 3AW.
‘This person will be known to somebody. The potential is there for him to kill again.’
Mr Bezzina said if someone had information but did not come forward, ‘they’ve got to live with their conscience.’
‘If this person or persons strike again, they have to live with that and say could I have stopped that?’ he said.
On Friday Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked about the attack while in Fiji. He told reporters: ‘It is just so shocking.’
The Prime Minister said his heart went out to Ms Maasarwe’s family, though he can’t begin to think of what he would say to them.
‘I know what I’m thinking about her attacker. I expect it’s the same thing that all other Australians are thinking today,’ he said.
People leave floral tributes where the body of Isreali student Aiia Maasarwe was found near the Polaris Shopping centre in Bundoora
Ms Maasarwe had been studying Chinese and English at Shanghai University, but moved to Melbourne six months ago to study at La Trobe University. Pictured: Tributes
Today Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Fiji ‘it is just so shocking. I mean, I’m speechless.’ Pictured: Tributes where her body was found
The Prime Minister stressed everyone in Australia should be able to travel home safely and that the government must remain ‘forever vigilant’ to the issue of violence against women.
Last night Senator Derryn Hinch sparked outrage after he tweeted details about the horrific murder.
The tweet made graphic and serious allegations about Ms Maasarwe’s killer while comparing the case to that of Jill Meagher, a journalist who was raped and murdered in an inner Melbourne suburb in 2012.
Derryn Hinch stands by his views, despite was slammed on social media on Thursday night
‘Jesus wept. Shades of Jill Meagher,’ Senator Hinch tweeted.
‘I’m hearing the rapist-murderer of that stalked innocent Israeli student is a known sex offender who tried to burn… evidence.
‘What has this town become?’ he ended the tweet.
Final moments: Miss Maasarwe getting off the tram before she was killed
People were quick to slam the federal Senator as insensitive, disrespectful, appalling and inappropriate.
‘Your willingness to exploit any situation is breathtakingly disgraceful. Shame on you Hinch,’ one tweeted.
Another added: ‘Think of her family Derryn! You may ‘want people to know’ but they might not want us to know the details of what happened to their girl. It’s beyond horrible but your blatant disregard of their feelings makes it even worse. Shame!’
Another accused Senator Hinch of using the tragedy to try and make a political point.
‘Sure we can all just rise above politics when a horrific and tragic event like another murder of a young woman occurs?,’ they tweeted.
Many called on Senator Hinch to delete the tweet.
‘Aiia Maasarwe’s family deserves better than this. If you have any respect for Aiia please delete this tweet and apologise to those who loved her,’ one woman commented.
Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said it was believed to be a ‘random attack’.
Senator Hinch tweeted that Aiia Maasarwe’s death had ‘shades of Jill Meagher’ (pictured)
The controversial senator responded to the online criticism with this response (pictured)
‘This was a horrendous, horrific attack inflicted on a completely innocent young woman who was a visitor to our city,’ he said.
Senator Hinch has previously been in hot water with the legal system on numerous occasions for contempt of court.
He spent 50 days in prison in 2014 for breaching a suppression order by revealing details of the criminal history of Ms Meagher’s killer Adrian Ernest Bayley.
Many people called on Senator Hinch to delete the tweet and show respect to Aiia Maasarwe’s (pictured) grieving family
He was given the option of a fine instead, which he chose not to pay ‘on principle’.
Senator Hinch responded to Thursday night’s backlash and made no apologies for the earlier tweet, which remained online.
‘To all the do-gooder Tweeters attacking me for telling the gruesome truth about the Bundoora rape/ murder. This brute is still out there. My tweet was for the memory of Jill Meagher and Eurydice Dixon,’ Mr Hinch later tweeted.
His later tweet sparked a war of words with departing federal senator David Leyonhjelm.
‘Except you voted against giving women like these the means to protect themselves. Do you have any principles at all,’ Senator Leyonhjelm posted.
Former media broadcaster turned senator Derryn Hinch been in hot water with the legal system on numerous occasions for contempt of court