More than 1000 people braved a bitterly cold and wet night in Melbourne to gather at the park where the body of 25-year-old Courtney Herron was found killed nearly a week ago.
Wrapped in scarves and thick jackets, Melburnians stood in the cold under umbrellas, many of whom had brought candles and flowers to the spot the young woman was violently murdered in a public space – the fourth to die under such circumstances in less than a year.
Those who knew Ms Herron sobbed loudly as they stood by the collection of logs at Royal Park in Parkville where her body had been found by dog walkers on Saturday morning, May 25.
Ms Herron's devastated mother was among the mourners, and looked to the sky pleading, "be happy baby".
Maxi Herron said her daughter was holding back the rain, after what had been a grey and wet Friday across the city.
"She is not crying, she is watching down. She is at peace. She is in the arms of her pappou saying, 'it's okay Mum I've shed my tears'," she told the crowd through tears.
The grieving mother went on to thank all those gathered for their display of solidarity and kindness.
"This outpouring of love is unexpected. My baby in life thought people didn't care, and that people were staring at her. But she is in heaven watching down, saying 'I am loved'."
As she stopped speaking, rain poured down.
Ms Herron’s grandmother stood among the grieving relatives and friends, and kissed a framed photograph of her granddaughter.
Vigil co-organiser Jessamy Gleeson, who was also responsible for last month’s vigil for Natalina Angok — the third woman to be found murdered in a public place in Melbourne in 12 months — said many women were feeling unsafe and called for political action to stop the deaths.
"It's not that Melbourne has a problem, it's that Australia has a problem and a lot of places have a problem," she told reporters.
"The message I want politicians to hear is that we are tired of doing these vigils and there needs to be a big structural change in how we address violence against women.
"(Courtney) was a young women who was just going about her business in Melbourne and there was absolutely no reason for her life to be taken."
Ms Herron's death sparked widespread calls for action.
"The safety of women is something that must concern us all," federal Minister for Women Marise Payne said, noting Ms Herron's death.
Homeless man Henry Richard Hammond, 27, has been charged with Ms Herron's murder.
He has faced court and remains in custody.
It's reported Hammond and Ms Herron may have left a party together just hours before her death.
An online fundraising appeal set up by the Melbourne Homeless Collective to help pay for Ms Herron's funeral has raised more than $13,000.
- with AAP
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