The body of a woman has been discovered in Parkville.
The body of a woman has been discovered in Parkville.

‘Heart of gold’: Tributes flow for murdered woman

POLICE say Courtney Herron suffered a "horrendous bashing" before she was found dead in Royal Park as shocked Melburnians express grief for yet another woman killed violently in our city.

Courtney Herron, 25, has been identified as the victim of the park slaying, which occurred on Friday night or Saturday morning.

A post-mortem examination showed she had not been sexually assaulted, and the homicide squad's detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said there was no known motive for what he described as a "horrendous bashing".

"The level of violence used here was extreme," he said.

"We are committed to finding the person, or people, responsible for this horrific attack."

Courtney Herron. Picture: Victoria Police
Courtney Herron. Picture: Victoria Police

 

Ms Herron was described as having a “heart of gold.”
Ms Herron was described as having a “heart of gold.”

Ms Herron's body was found near the North Park Tennis Club in Royal Park, close to Elliott Ave, by dog walkers about 9.30am on Saturday. It had been callously dumped near logs.

Ms Herron had struggled with drugs and mental ill health in recent years, and police believe she had been couch-surfing and rough sleeping. The last confirmed sighting of her was on May 14, at St Albans police station.

Insp Stamper said: "This was a young woman who obviously had some significant challenges in life.

"We, as a community, should be protecting these people, and we didn't," he said.

"We failed."

 

People lay flowers at the site. Picture: Mark Stewart
People lay flowers at the site. Picture: Mark Stewart

 

Courtney Herron “lit up a room”.
Courtney Herron “lit up a room”.

Friends have paid tribute to Ms Herron. One said: "Heaven has gained another angel."

Sophie Ceylan said: "She was very kind to me and was always laughing and telling jokes. The last time I saw her, we were taking a walk through the park where she was killed."

She said: "I'd love for her mum to know that Courtney knew how much she was loved, and how lucky she was to have a family who tried so hard to help her."

Another friend, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "Courtney had a heart of gold."

Another added that she "lit up a room" with her "smile and happy, bubbly personality".

She was also remembered as a jokester, and beautiful inside and out.

Courtney Herron with her ex-boyfriend Tek Edwards.
Courtney Herron with her ex-boyfriend Tek Edwards.

Nindara Edwards-Norris told the Herald Sun that her brother, Tek Edwards, had been in a four-year relationship with Ms Herron until 2015.

"Our family, as well as Courtney's family, are in total shock and grief at this time," she said. "She had a good family and was a lovely person.

"We are all in shock and deeply saddened by her death."

Ms Edwards-Norris said she was shocked to hear Ms Herron, who had worked for the Department of Health and Human Services in Preston, had become homeless.

Friends were surprised she had become homeless before her death. Picture: Mark Stewart
Friends were surprised she had become homeless before her death. Picture: Mark Stewart

Organisers of public vigils for them and other women slain in Melbourne in the past year plan a vigil for Ms Herron at State Parliament soon.

"It is to honour each and every time a woman loses their life at the hands of a man," We Keep Vigil's Jessamy Gleeson said.

"These deaths aren't inevitable. We have a duty to look after anyone who is ­vulnerable."

 

OFFENDER TRIED TO HIDE BODY

Speaking to the media yesterday afternoon, Homicide Squad's detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said she was from Melbourne's inner north but had not lived at a fixed address for some time.

Police believe she was killed at the park before the offender tried to hide her body.

"There has been some efforts made to conceal the body," Insp Stamper said.

Police want to speak with anyone who knew Courtney and had seen her in recent weeks.

She was wearing a light brown sleeveless vest, a black hoodie, black track pants, black runners and a blue singlet top at the time of her death.

"We are appealing for the community's help and remind them that no piece of information is too big or too small," Insp Stamper said.

"We know a number of people use this park and urge anyone with information or who may have seen anything suspicious to come forward."

Premier Daniel Andrews described the death as a "terrible, terrible tragedy", but stopped short of promising to bolster security in Melbourne's parks and gardens.

Melbourne City Council will carry out a safety review of Royal Park, which has no CCTV cameras.

"We have so much more to do in terms of preventing violence against women and keeping women across Victoria safe," Mr Andrews said.

"This is yet again a reminder that we have a long way to go in terms of changing attitudes to women, and therefore outcomes for women."

 

DEATH LEAVES MARK ON CITY

The homicide squad detective tasked with tracking down a killer has described a city's heartbreak at the latest murder of a young woman.

Inspector Andrew Stamper did not know Courtney Herron, but as a father of a daughter he said he was feeling her death.

"I feel angry as a proud born and bred Melbourne person that these things happen," Insp Stamper said.

"I'm a father of a daughter and I feel just the same as everyone else when it ­happens."

Like the detective, much of Melbourne was lamenting the loss of yet another young woman killed in the city.

The logs where she was found. Picture: David Crosling
The logs where she was found. Picture: David Crosling

"I knew running through here in the dark was stupid but it's so frustrating," local resident Emma Thompson said of her runs through Royal Park.

"It really makes me angry we can't use our parklands but you can't put your life at risk."

Ms Herron, who had recently been couch surfing and sleeping rough, was battling drug and mental health issues, but that did not make her any less loved.

There was more to care about given her circumstances and vulnerability, Insp Stamper said.

"I don't mean to in any way diminish the death or homicide of any person but, you know, these ones strike a chord," he said.

In November last year, the seasoned homicide cop told the story of another woman's death - the rape and murder of aspiring comedian Eurydice Dixon.

Regardless of life choices and circumstances of death, families were always hurting, he said, even if at times they were fractured as in Ms Herron's case.

"That does not mean that families out there don't love their children," he said.

"We are dealing with a heartbroken family here again."

Heartbroken, too, were the people who placed flowers at the logs where Ms Herron's body was left.

A man leaves flowers where a woman’s body was found in Royal Park. Picture: AAP Image/James Ross
A man leaves flowers where a woman’s body was found in Royal Park. Picture: AAP Image/James Ross

One read: "What happened to you was horrific and you did not deserve it, nobody does. You should have been safe. We won't forget your name."

As the killer remains on the loose, police are working to piece together the last few months of Ms Herron's life.

Officers are looking to Ms Herron's friends and anyone who saw suspicious activity in Royal Park for a vital clue.

Among the notes left was one reading: "You deserved so much better."

It was hard to find someone who disagreed with that sentiment.

 

A card left with flowers at the scene. Picture: David Crosling
A card left with flowers at the scene. Picture: David Crosling

 

 

VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE

 

NATALINA ANGOK, 32

April 24, 2019

Found dead in Chinatown laneway after partner allegedly attacked her following his release from a mental inpatient facility.

Natalina Angok.
Natalina Angok.

 

AIIA MAASARWE, 21

January 16, 2019

Exchange student murdered walking home from comedy show in North Melbourne - attacked after stepping off Route 86 tram at Bundoora near Polaris shopping centre, Bundoora.

Aiia Maasarwe.
Aiia Maasarwe.

 

EURYDICE DIXON, 22

June 13, 2018

Murdered walking home from comedy gig in early hours of the morning - followed from Flinders Street Station and attacked at Carlton's Princes Park.

Eurydice Dixon.
Eurydice Dixon.

 

MASA VUKOTIC, 17

March 18, 2015

Schoolgirl fatally stabbed while walking on a footpath in the Koonung Creek Linear Park in Doncaster not far from her home.

Masa Vukotic.
Masa Vukotic.

 

RENEA LAU, 32

June 28, 2014

Pastry chef, also known as Yuk Ling Lau, attacked by man ejected from a bar. The two crossed paths on St Kilda Rd before he dragged her into the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Renea Lau.
Renea Lau.

 

JILL MEAGHER, 29

September 22, 2012

Attacked returning from a night out just minutes from her home. Her body was found in a shallow roadside grave at Gisborne South.

Jill Meagher.
Jill Meagher.

 

 

Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

brianna.travers@news.com.au

@briannatravers

“I feel it just the same as everyone else,” Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said. Picture: Mark Stewart
“I feel it just the same as everyone else,” Detective Inspector Andrew Stamper said. Picture: Mark Stewart