Man charged following death of 11-year-old Zoe Buttigieg in Victoria

Gus Bruno and Natasha Christian and Agencies

A man has been charged over the death of an 11-year-old girl in Victoria's northwest over the weekend.

Zoe Buttigieg's body was found by her mother in her Inchbold St, Wangaratta, Sunday morning.

On Wednesday evening a man, 29, was charged in relation to her death.

He is due before Wangaratta Magistrates Court on Thursday, facing charges of murder, sexual penetration of a child under 16 and an indecent act with a child under 16.

The accused murderer was arrested walking barefoot along the Hume Freeway, about 10 kilometres from her house at 6.30am on Sunday, hours before the girl's body was found.

Friends pay tribute. Photo: 7 News

He remains under police guard at Wangaratta Hospital, where he's expected to face an out of session remand hearing on Wednesday evening, before being taken into custody ahead of Thursday's court appearance.

The young girl's death has shocked the state.

Neighbours and friends gathered outside Zoe's house for a candlelight vigil on Monday and on Wednesday her family released a statement thanking police and the community for their support.

"We are overwhelmed by the community support and would like to say a huge thank you to those who organised and attended the candlelight vigil at the park that Zoe always enjoyed playing at."

Zoe's mother thanked "all who have stood by her".

The grieving family has asked for privacy as they prepare for the funeral.

The shock has been felt throughout the close-knit neighbourhood with the girl’s friends leaving soft toys in remembrance for the girl they described as a 'beautiful young lady' with a 'cheeky smile'. Photo: Facebook

A neighbour told the Wangaratta Chronicle how she was struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.

"I keep on asking myself how this could happen... it has really rocked the people in this street and Wangaratta," she said.

"It's a really quiet street but I couldn't sit inside yesterday when I heard what had happened."

Family, friends and neighbours made a makeshift shrine in honour to the 11-year-old 'with a cheeky smile'. Photo: Supplied