Australian police seeking suspect in killing of Israeli exchange student

Australian authorities are searching for a suspect they believe killed an Israeli exchange student near Melbourne’s LaTrobe University late Tuesday.

Police released surveillance footage of Aiia Maasarwe at a tram station near Melbourne. She was killed, apparently at random, not long after. Photo courtesy Victoria Police
Police released surveillance footage of Aiia Maasarwe at a tram station near Melbourne. She was killed, apparently at random, not long after. Photo courtesy Victoria Police

The body of 21-year-old Aiia Maasarwe was found partially clothed Wednesday morning about 150 feet from where she left a tram by herself. Maasarwe was on the phone using FaceTime with her sister when she was attacked, which officials say was apparently at random, police believe. She was less than a mile from her home.
Police are appealing to the public to find the killer. Officers found a black baseball cap and gray T-shirt that they believe were worn by the suspect. Police would not confirm reports that there was a sexual assault. The hat and shirt are being forensically tested.

“There will be someone out there who has seen a person wearing this clothing, and we really need them to come forward and provide us with that information,” Victoria Police Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said in a news release.
“We have a grieving family who has had to fly halfway across the world under the most horrific circumstances and we want to be able to give them some answers,” he added.

Maasarwe was from Baq al-Gharbiya in northern Israel. She has previously studied Chinese and English at Shanghai University and planned to join her father’s business in China after graduation.

More than 400 people were expected to attend a vigil Friday evening.
The victim’s uncle, Rame Maasarwe told 9News that her death was the “last thing” he expected in a country like Australia because it’s known for being a “very safe place.”

“It’s not easy for the family, it was shocking,” Maasarwe said. “She liked to have fun all the time. She was a very good person.”

ByNicholas Sakelaris