– White candles lit up St Kilda’s red-light district on Thursday night as a community united in grief gathered to honour murdered street worker Tracy Connelly.
They also came to denounce violence against women in an area frequented by some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable.
Brighton mother Mandy never laid eyes on Ms Connelly but took her two young sons to the Greeves Street vigil “because every life is important”.
For hundreds of locals who gathered around a makeshift stage clutching candles against the cold, Ms Connelly was the smiling face they had seen on the Carlisle Street corner for as long as they had lived in the area.
“It’s just not safe for the girls,” said Carlisle Street resident Sharyn. “They have to make it safer for them.”
“It’s the girls that make the street safe,” said another woman. “There’s always a presence.”
Ms Connelly’s absence from Greeves Street has become a constant reminder of the violence faced by women who work the streets of St Kilda. Her killer is still at large.
“We really want to honour Tracy but also send clear message that the community cares about violence against women,” said Sally Tonkin, chief executive of the St Kilda Gatehouse, a haven for sex workers. “The day after she died we had women coming in who were just so visibly upset, young women she’d taken under her wing.”
Ms Connelly, 40, was found on Sunday, July 21st, with wounds to her face and shoulders in the broken down Ford Econovan she shared with her partner of 10 years, Tony Melissovas. The van was parked on Greeves Street.
On Thursday detectives announced a major breakthrough in the murder investigation.
Grainy closed circuit television footage has led police to believe Ms Connelly had returned to the van in which she was murdered between 1:30am and 2:30am on July 21st.
Previously, the investigation had focused on individuals on and around Greeves Street on the Saturday. The homicide squad’s Detective Inspector John Potter said the CCTV footage had resulted in the investigation shifting focus to the early hours of the Sunday and to an unknown individual who might have been caught in the footage with Ms Connelly at that time.
The footage “depicts some movement towards the van”, Inspector Potter said. In the 14 hours that followed this “movement”, he said, “there does not appear to be any other activity around the van”.
While the footage was “particularly grainy”, Inspector Potter said police were working on enhancing the faces of the two individuals captured, one believed to be Ms Connelly and the other a potential suspect.
Ms Tonkin said: “The underlying problem is an attitude towards women, that violence against women is ok or acceptable. I think these men have deep-seated issues and they’re taking it out against our women because they think they can get away with it.”
Ms Tonkin said Ms Connelly had been “talking a lot about leaving sex work, fantasising about setting up a home in the suburbs and working as a kitchen hand and was fixated on finding her son”.
Ms Connelly’s brother, Les Toft, 53, and her parents raised that son, now in his early 20s, who flew into Melbourne to attend his mother’s vigil. “We always told him the truth, but we never passed judgement against her and we always held out hope that she would return and somehow she’d find a way back to us,” Mr Toft said – Rania Spooner


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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