A 20-year-old man has been charged with the ‘horrific’ murder of an Israeli exchange student.
Aiia Maasarwe was killed in what police believe was a random attack while walking home to her accommodation after a comedy show on Tuesday night.
Her half-naked body was found near a shopping centre the next morning and on Friday police arrested aspiring rapper Codey Herrmann.
On Saturday police said they had charged a 20-year-old man with the murder.
‘A 20-year-old Greensborough man has been charged with one count of murder and is expected to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court shortly,’ a statement read.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Saturday attended the scene of the crime where dozens of floral tributes have been laid.
He said in a statement: ‘Earlier today, with Jen and the girls, we visited the Polaris Town Centre at Bundoora with other families and fellow Australians to pay our respects and grieve the loss of Aiia.
‘Later today I will meet with her father. I cannot imagine his loss.’
A 20-year-old man has been charged with the ‘horrific’ murder of an Israeli exchange student. Pictured: Suspect Cody Herrmann who was arrested on Friday
Aiia Maasarwe was killed on Tuesday night after she caught a tram, as she made her way back from a comedy show at North Melbourne’s The Comic Lounge
Earlier on Saturday, police confirmed Herrmann was on bail for minor property-related charges at the time of the murder.
In the days prior to Miss Maasarwe’s death, the aspiring rapper was very active on social media, posting 18 times in one day last week.
He also posted several videos of himself rapping online. In one video, he can be heard reciting, ‘I’m trying to find the way… but I’m blazed, blazed, and I’m to blame for all my mistakes I ever made.’
In another rap video Herrmann is dressed down and rhyming: ‘I’m an animal and I’m uncontrollable when I’m on the microphone.
‘You can’t stop me because honestly, honesty has got so far from me that I cannot go back to the past.’
In one video posted in October, he sang: ‘Suicidal thoughts, yeah I’ll walk the line … keeping all the demons in my mind’.
Saeed Maasarwe had planned to travel from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou to visit the Victorian capital city in two weeks and reunite with his daughter
Heartbroken residents gathered at the site of Aiia Maasarwe’s murder at Bundoora
In another, he rapped: ‘No-one ever taught me how to live a normal life’ and ‘you ain’t going to mess with me’.
Miss Maasarwe had moved to Melbourne on a one-year exchange program to study at La Trobe University.
Her father Saeed had planned to travel from the Chinese city of Guangzhou to visit the Victorian capital city and meet with his daughter.
Instead of the dream reunion he had envisaged, Mr Maasarwe was joined by devastated Melbourne residents in an outpouring of grief at the spot her body was discovered.
Mr Maasarwe said he wanted his daughter to experience new cultures to broaden her horizons.
‘She, all the time, smiled. She loved the people,’ he said.
‘She have very big opinions, the mind open for everything. She liked to study different cultures and different nationalities. She don’t come with a locked mind from another culture: She respected all the people.’
What was supposed to be an overdue reunion between father, daughter and Aiia’s older sister Noor turned into a tragic nightmare.
Mr Maasarwe had to identify his daughter’s body after it was found on Wednesday morning.
Tears for Aiia: Hundreds mourned the murder of an Israeli student on Friday, hours after a 20-year-old man was arrested
Flowers were laid and a candles lit to remember the tragic death of Ms Maasarwe
‘I have many dreams to be with her. I want to be with her more time, but someone decided I cannot be,’ he said in halted English.
Mr Maasarwe also inspected the tributes left to his daughter at the crime scene and was pictured crying as he admired them.
‘I wish, I pray she is in a more nice place than this place, and in the paradise.’
He spent part of the day visiting La Trobe University where a vigil was held for his slain daughter.
‘This has given me (a) good feeling, but also from another way, I am sad because this is the last place my daughter … was here,’ he said of the makeshift shrine.
‘I have many dreams to be with her.’
Mr Maasarwe said he wished to take his daughter’s body back to Israel and bury her as soon as possible in line with Islamic culture.
Just four years ago, police issued a missing person’s alert after he disappeared from his Bundoora home in Melbourne, The Australian reported.
A week before Ms Maasarwe’s body was found, Herrmann also made the post: ‘International girl of mystery You knows who you are’
Just hours after the body of Ms Maasarwe was discovered, Herrmann took to Facebook to share a photo of himself holding a can of Jack Daniels.
The photo was posted next to an older one of himself as a baby and captioned, ‘b4 An afta’.
A week before, Herrmann took to Facebook to say: ‘International girl of mystery You knows who you are.’
The prolific Facebook user even posted a fake-wanted poster of himself on his social media account under the name of Kody Wrex, one of his many identities.
‘Greenzy’s most wanted,’ was written in the January 11 post.
He posted a meme on the same day encouraging people to treat each other fairly.
‘Being raised right is how you treat people, your manners and respect’.
Herrmann also discussed his mental health struggles on the social media site.
Ms Maasarwe 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
A January 10 post read, ‘Shoutout to all the men going through a lot, with no one to turn to, because this world wrongly taught our males to mask their emotion & that strong means silent.’
The self-proclaimed rapper went by the name of MC Codez on top of others like Codey Kulla Kulla.
Herrmann attended Bundoora Secondary College until 2016, and it is believed he was couch surfing around the time of Ms Maasarwe’s death, The Age reported.
A friend said they frequently spotted him around the Bundoora area.
‘He was on the 86 tram a lot. He was always on foot, I never saw him transport in any other way. Trams and buses.’
A former schoolmate said she saw Herrmann a week ago on a street only kilometres away from the murder site of Ms Maasarwe.
At the time, Herrmann seemed disoriented.
On top of that, he was seen walking into oncoming traffic.
The former schoolmate said it looked like Herrmann had a complete disregard for life.
Schoolmate Tim Kefa said Herrmann spiraled into drug and alcohol abuse following his junior years, while others say he was quiet and withdrawn.
Earlier on Friday, the 20-year-old man was arrested in Greensborough at a picnic shelter positioned close to a children’s park which is a known hang out for youths to smoke drugs.
He was found by police in a shelter with a woman and a group of young men.
Neighbours said they saw plain clothes and uniformed police arrest the man about 11.20am after approaching him while he was in a rotunda at Pioneer Park.
Herrmann was arrested at a park in Greensborough on Friday and remains in custody
The shelter is a known hang out for local youths who smoke drugs
Tracey Neus said she saw the woman and had a gut instinct to call police.
But when she looked again, police had already converged on the location.
Shane Cairns said he was shaken to learn about the person’s presence.
‘I’m just shocked. We thought they would have just been some kids,’ he said.
Up to eight police were involved in the arrest, the couple said.
He was identified as a person of interest after police forensically tested a hat and blood-stained T-shirt left at the crime scene, 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.
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
It is understood the man, 20, was identified as a person of interest after police forensically tested a hat and blood-stained T-shirt (above) left at the crime scene
Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said it was believed to be a ‘random attack’ carried out by someone who was ‘opportunistic’.
‘This was a horrendous, horrific attack inflicted on a completely innocent young woman who was a visitor to our city,’ he said.
Forensic officers were combing through a derelict property in the same suburb where the 20-year-old was arrested on Friday evening, according to The Age, and carrying evidence out of the building.
A Grimshaw Street property has been taped off and it is believed squatters used the graffiti-marked place.
Aiia’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
Aiia’s father Saeed said he ‘dreamed to be with’ his daughter and looked at tributes left at the crime scene in her memory
11am: Codey Herrmann, 20, is arrested
The case bears similarities to the rape and murder of 22-year-old comedian Eurydice Dixon who was attacked in June while walking home from a gig in Melbourne.
Australia’s human rights commission said the country has a ‘a disturbingly high rate of violence against women’.
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.
Ms 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.’
Final moments: Ms Maasarwe getting off the tram before she was killed
Ms 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.
She likely got off the tram in Bundoora near where her body was found, about a kilometre from her student accommodation.
Homicide detectives released CCTV images of Ms Maasarwe in the aftermath of her death, which show the clothing she was wearing that night, in the hope someone saw her and can help police track her exact movements.
Police said in the days after Ms Maarsarwe’s death they were investigating if the student was stalked from the tram and were scouring a list of known sex offenders as an ‘active line of inquiry’.
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.
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.
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
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
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