Melbourne woman, 23, found dead in her home after ‘being stalked by a colleague’ had comforted him after he was fired from his job – as heartbroken boyfriend holds a tearful footpath vigil
- 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
- She had been looking forward to celebrating her birthday this week
- Friends describe the young woman as selfless, kindhearted and beautiful
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Pictured: The 35-year-old man suspected of killing Ms Manno
The prime suspect in the killing of Melbourne woman Celeste Manno was comforted by his alleged victim when he was fired 18 months ago.
The devastated family of Ms Manno bravely faced the media on Tuesday outside the home where their beloved Celeste died on Monday.
The 35-year-old is under police guard in hospital after handing himself in after her death.
‘She wasn’t close with him at all, but just to give him some support she walked him out the door,’ her brother Alessandro said, who refused to name him.
‘Ever since that day he has been obsessed with her and harassing her over social media for months and months with like vulgar and disgusting messages.’
Ms Manno’s father Tony was accompanied by sons Jayden and Alessandro and uncle Gabriel outside the property where they described the alleged killer as ‘evil’.
Jayden (left), Alesandro, Gabriel and Tony Manno, with baby Daisy, outside the home where Celeste Manno was killed on Monday night
About a dozen friends joined he boyfriend in a footpath vigil to mark the awful tragedy
In March, the terrified woman was forced to file an intervention order against her alleged tormentor.
He disappeared in March, but after a few months the messages started up again.
Tony Manno said the justice system had let his daughter down.
‘It let my daughter down,’ he said. ‘And it’s gotta be changed. It won’t bring her back but it has to be changed.’
The abuse started about January where the alleged offender would bombard Ms Manno over Instagram.
‘At first she would be nice to him and just say “look thank you but I’m not interested”,’ Alessandro said.
‘Then he became obsessive so eventually she had to block him and he created about a million other accounts until this happened. I hope justice gets served to him in more ways than one. I hope he rots.’
Alessandro, 19, said he had never gone more than two days apart from his sister in his entire life.
On the night she was killed, he had spent a rare evening away from the home.
‘It was actually my first night away from home in my life. My first night ever in 19 years and it was the one night this happened. So I can only assume he planned it,’ he said.
‘I feel like she’s going to come home from work any minute … I don’t know how we’re going to get through it.’
Ms Manno was studying at university and worked at a Serco call centre. Police are investigating whether a co-worker was stalking her
A mourner laid a bouquet of flowers and cried out the front of Ms Manno’s home on Monday
Ms Manno’s boyfriend, Chris Ridsdale, was embraced by mourning friends out the front of her family home in Melbourne’s north on Tuesday afternoon
Celeste Manno’s father Tony cradles baby Daisy and begs the Victorian justice system to change
The family remain unsure how Ms Manno’s killer found out where she lived.
‘He must have been stalking us,’ Alessandro said.
The men paid tribute to Ms Manno, describing her love for her niece Daisy, whom was cradled by her father Tony.
‘Celeste adored her. She was absolutely in love with her niece,’ Tony said.
‘Celeste was coming over tomorrow night to visit after COVID. COVID kept us all separated too long and little Daisy was really looking forward to seeing her.’
The family described their loved one’s killer as ‘evil’.
‘It’s harrowing. Such a senseless and unfathomable evil act,’ Jayden said.
‘It should never have happened to our family, not to anyone’s family. Evil. This can’t happen.’
Jayden said everyone had the right to live their lives in the safety of their own home.
‘No-one should be scared – man, woman, child. No-one,’ he said. ‘This evil should not exist. Things need to change. This evil cannot be allowed to continue.’
It is understood he remains in a Melbourne hospital under police guard after sustaining minor injuries.
He is believed to have forced his way into Ms Manno’s property by smashing a window at the rear of the house.
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
Ms Manno’s boyfriend Christopher Ridsdale had earlier arrived outside the Mernda property, in the city’s north, about 2.30pm and was embraced by Ms Manno’s friends.
Ms Manno’s beloved partner tearfully placed a bouquet of flowers and a photo of the couple beside a tree that has become a makeshift shrine.
The pair were supposed to celebrate Ms Manno’s birthday this week, and had been excited about spending Christmas together.
Instead, devastated Mr Ridsdale was forced to mourn beside the footpath outside the home where the university graduate and Serco worker was killed on Monday morning.
Up to a dozen of Ms Manno’s friends joined him at the site while a glazier worked to repair a large glass panel within the property.
Ms Manno’s body was found about 4.10am on Monday.
In a powerful post, Mr Ridsdale’s sister, Sarah, posted to Facebook that Ms Manno ‘wasn’t even safe in her own bed’.
‘(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.’
Friend Loretta Cimini said of Ms Manno: ‘She was always selfless and always put everyone else first before herself’
In a message that quickly went viral, Ms Ridsdale said: ‘I sit here watching my younger brother shake with tears. I can’t do anything.
‘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.
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 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)
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
‘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
Ms Manno was a criminology and psychology graduate from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, according to her social media profiles.
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 Melbourne.
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 before being 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
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
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
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
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
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.