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    Celeste Manno: Mernda victim was meant to celebrate her birthday this week

    ‘Beautiful’ student, 23, found dead at home after being ‘stalked by a co-worker’ was meant to celebrate her birthday with her boyfriend this week – instead she ‘wasn’t even safe in her own bed’ grieving loved ones say

    • Celeste Manno, 23, was found dead at home in Melbourne’s north on Monday 
    • Police  investigating whether she had been stalked by a co-worker beforehand 
    • A man, 35, was arrested after handing himself in at the local police station 
    • In tribute, loved one says she was meant to celebrate her birthday this week
    • Friends describe the young woman as selfless, kind-hearted and beautiful
    • Family members gathered out the front of her Mernda home to lay flowers 
    • Do you know more about this incident? [email protected] 

    Celeste Manno was meant to celebrate her birthday with her boyfriend, Christopher, this week (above). Instead she was found dead on Monday – with police investigating whether a co-worker had been stalking her

    Melbourne university student Celeste Manno was supposed to be celebrating her birthday with her boyfriend this week. 

    Instead, the 23-year-old ‘wasn’t even safe in her own bed,’ a loved one has said in a powerful social media post urging the legal system to do more to protect women. 

    Ms Manno was found dead at her family’s home in Mernda, in the city’s north, about 4.10am on Monday. 

    A 35-year-old man – said to be a co-worker from a Serco call centre who she barely knew – has handed himself in to Victoria Police. 

    Charges are yet to be laid and detectives are investigating claims the man may have been stalking Ms Manno. 

    In a moving message published Tuesday, Sarah Ridsdale, the sister of Ms Manno’s boyfriend Christopher, urged the legal system to ‘start’ taking stalking seriously.

    Ms Manno was studying at university and worked at a Serco call centre. She was found dead at her home in Mernda, in Melbourne's north, about 4.10am on Monday

    Ms Manno was studying at university and worked at a Serco call centre. She was found dead at her home in Mernda, in Melbourne’s north, about 4.10am on Monday 

    Crime scene cleaners attended Ms Manno's family home  on Tuesday morning - as bouquets of flowers piled up out the front

    Crime scene cleaners attended Ms Manno’s family home  on Tuesday morning – as bouquets of flowers piled up out the front

    ‘(Celeste) was supposed to be celebrating her birthday with Chris this week,’ Ms Ridsdale said.

    ‘She was supposed to be having Christmas with our family. Her family. Her mother. Her brothers.’

    Instead, Ms Manno’s family and partner were left bereft at her tragic death, grieving the loss of a life cut short.

    In a message that quickly went viral, Ms Ridsdale said: ‘We need our legal system to get off their arses and start taking this seriously. Stalking is a sign of things to come.

    ‘She wasn’t even safe in her own bed. If the law had done something about this ages ago, she may still be here.’   

    Crime scene cleaners attended the young woman’s home on Tuesday morning as family and friends paid tribute to Ms Manno. 

    A mourner laid a bouquet of flowers and cried out the front of Ms Manno's home on Monday

    A mourner laid a bouquet of flowers and cried out the front of Ms Manno’s home on Monday

    Victoria Police established two crime scenes - one at the home and another outside the police station where the 35-year-old man is believed to have driven to

    Victoria Police established two crime scenes – one at the home and another outside the police station where the 35-year-old man is believed to have driven to 

    Forensics officers placed evidence markers next to bloodstains on the front fence of the home

    Forensics officers placed evidence markers next to bloodstains on the front fence of the home

    Ms Manno’s godmother Pina told the Herald Sun the young woman didn’t know the arrested man very well.

    ‘She didn’t even know him. They had met but they didn’t know each other,’ Pino said.

    ‘No one deserves this but least of all her… She was beautiful. She never did a single thing wrong.’

    Another relative said they believed the man was stalking Ms Manno’s house. 

    Ms Manno’s mother was heard yelling ‘how did I not protect her?’ as she was comforted by loved ones out the front on Monday.

    Pina told the Herald Sun the young victim’s mother would ‘never recover’ and ‘blames herself’.

    ‘She was home but there was nothing she could do.’

    It is not known how the killer got inside and homicide detectives are still working to determine the circumstances surrounding her death. 

    Friend Loretta Cimini said of Ms Manno: 'She was always selfless and always put everyone else first before herself'

    Friend Loretta Cimini said of Ms Manno: ‘She was always selfless and always put everyone else first before herself’

    It is not known how the killer got inside Ms Manno's home

    Homicide detectives are still working to determine the circumstances surrounding Ms Manno's death

    It is not known how the killer got inside and homicide detectives are still working to determine the circumstances surrounding Ms Manno’s death

    Ms Manno's mother tried to run through the crime tape as her daughter's body was removed from the house but was stopped by officers (pictured)

    Ms Manno’s mother tried to run through the crime tape as her daughter’s body was removed from the house but was stopped by officers (pictured)

    Police placed evidence markers next to bloodstains on the front fence yesterday. 

    CCTV footage showed a car that may have been driven by the killer leave the property minutes before emergency crews arrived. 

    Tributes poured in online for the young woman, who was remembered by friends as a ‘beautiful soul’.  

    ‘Fly High Beautiful girl,’ her friend Maddi Jonhnston wrote on Facebook.

    ‘The most loving, generous and kind hearted friend to everyone around her… You will be missed. I will forever cherish the memories that we made and for the friendship that we gained.

    ‘This world can be cruel, and you did not deserve this at all.’

    A masked man leaves flowers out the front of the property this week

    A masked man leaves flowers out the front of the property this week 

    'Fly High Beautiful girl,' one heartbroken friend wrote. 'The most loving, generous and kind hearted friend to everyone around her ... You will be missed'

    ‘Fly High Beautiful girl,’ one heartbroken friend wrote. ‘The most loving, generous and kind hearted friend to everyone around her … You will be missed’

    Friend Loretta Cimini said: ‘She was always selfless and always put everyone else first before herself. 

    ‘She was an absolute angel who didn’t deserve a tragic ending like this! The world has truly lost a ray of sunshine today.’ 

    Another mate, Bertine Rashou, said Ms Manno was’ the most beautiful soul’ she had ever encountered. 

    ‘I am absolutely shocked and devastated. I have no words my heart is broken,’ Ms Rashou said.  

    A forensic investigator is seen outside the scene where Celeste Manno's body was discovered in Mernda

    A forensic investigator is seen outside the scene where Celeste Manno’s body was discovered in Mernda

    Ms Manno was a criminology and psychology student at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, according to her social media profiles. 

    Devastating photos of mourners leaving flowers near the crime scene have emerged online.

    One showed a woman kneeling by bouquets of flowers, sobbing. 

    A large group of devastated loved ones could be seen hugging and crying outside the four-bedroom home on Monday, where Ms Manno lived with her mother and other family members.

    Serco boss Peter Welling said Ms Manno would be missed by staff.

    ‘Celeste has been a warmly regarded and valued member of our team. Her sudden and tragic loss has deeply affected all of us at Serco and is particularly heartbreaking for our colleagues who had the privilege to work with her,’ he said.

    Crime scenes have been set up at northeast Melbourne residence and at the police station.

    Blood was visible on a fence at the property and a blue Peugeot outside the police station underwent forensic testing on Monday. 

    Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

    Ms Manno joins a string of female victims who have been viciously murdered by male stalkers.

    In 2019, Aiia Maasarwe was on her way home in Melbourne in January 2019 when she was followed, raped and murdered by Codey Herrmann after getting off a tram in Bundoora.

    A year earlier, 22-year-old Eurydice Dixon was stalked for more than an hour and raped and murdered in Carlton North’s Princes Park by a stranger.

    If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence, contact 1800RESPECT. 

    WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN STALKED AND KILLED IN MELBOURNE

    Pictured: Jill Meagher

    Pictured: Jill Meagher

    Jill Meagher: Ms Meagher was 29 when she was raped and murdered in Melbourne by serial sex offender Adrian Bayley, who stalked her on the way home from a pub on September 21, 2012.

    Her case was initially treated as a missing person after she failed to return home to her husband, but her body was discovered by Victorian police six days later. 

    Bayley is serving a life sentence in prison, with a non-parole period of 35 years. 

    Pictured: Yuk Ling Lau

    Pictured: Yuk Ling Lau

    Yuk Ling Lau: Ms Lau was 32 and walking to work when she was followed, beaten unconscious and raped near the police memorial in the King’s Domain Gardens in June 2014.

    Homeless man Scott Miller was eventually captured and sentenced to 33 years in prison with a minimum term of 28 years over Ms Lau’s murder. 

    Masa Vukotic: In 2015, 17-year old Masa Vukotic had been at school and eaten dinner with her family before she decided to go for a walk.

    Pictured: Masa Vukotic

    Pictured: Masa Vukotic

    Sean Christian Price saw her and instantly decided to kill her. ‘I just f**king had to kill her, man. I f**king had to kill her,’ Price told police.

    Price took the the knife from a bag he was carrying and ran up to her. He pushed her into the bushes where she pleaded with Price not to hurt her. Masa told Price she would do anything he wanted her to do. Price ignored her and began stabbing. 

    Eurydice Dixon: In 2018, the 22-year-old was stalked for more than an hour and raped and murdered in Carlton North’s Princes Park by a stranger later identified as Jaymes Todd, 19.

    Pictured: Eurydice Dixon

    Pictured: Eurydice Dixon

    She had spent the night performing in a comedy club and was walking home after her performance. 

    Todd was sentenced to life behind bars with a non parole period of 35 years – a sentence which he argued was ‘manifestly excessive’ due to his youth and previously clean record.

    Aiia Maasarwe: Ms Maasarwe was on her way home in Melbourne in January 2019 when she was raped and murdered by Codey Herrmann after getting off a tram in Bundoora.

    Pictured: Aiia Maasarwe

    Pictured: Aiia Maasarwe

    Herrmann repeatedly beat Ms Maasarwe over the head with a metal pole and sexually assaulted her, before covering her body in flammable WD-40 spray and setting her alight. He was sentenced to 36 years in jail.

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