By Luke Voogt
The alleged murder of Highton woman Natalina Angok has left her family heartbroken, they said in a statement released by police today.
“We are heartbroken,” the statement read.
“Our family is finding the strength to come to terms with this tragedy and the loss of Natalina Angok.”
Ms Angok’s family requested the media respect their privacy and allow them to grieve in peace.
The family was “understandably feeling quite overwhelmed”, a police spokesperson said.
The statement came as Ms Angok’s boyfriend and accused killer Christopher Bell, 32, returned to Melbourne Magistrates’ Court this morning.
Mr Bell appeared for a brief filing hearing before a magistrate remanded him in custody to appear for a committal mention on 30 August.
A passer-by discovered Ms Angok’s body in Melbourne’s Chinatown, near the corner of Little Bourke St and Celestial Ave, about 6.30am on Wednesday.
Paramedics arrived soon after the grim discovery but could not revive her.
Police cordoned off the busy restaurant strip as they reviewed overnight CCTV footage from nearby stores and forensics officers took photos in Celestial Ave.
Police arrested Mr Bell on Wednesday afternoon and charged him with murder later that night.
Investigators conducted a post-mortem examination on Ms Angok’s body on Wednesday night but had yet to make the cause of her death public.
Mr Bell, from Cowes in Phillip Island, appeared before Melbourne Magistrates’ Court about 3.30pm on Thursday and did not apply for bail.
The court heard he was a schizophrenic, who had been released from an inpatient facility a week ago and had been unmedicated for some time.
Ms Angok’s sister Helena this week told The Age Mr Bell had been in a relationship with Natalina for more than a year.
“It’s really sad and I can’t get my head around it. My sister is gone and when I think about it, I think this is not true,” she said.
“She didn’t deserve to die in such a way, being killed by someone. She was a loving and caring sister, and a down-to-earth person, not a troublemaker.
“She loved everybody, even if someone did something bad to her, she would just talk and laugh with them.”
A group condemning male violence against women planned a vigil for Ms Angok on the steps of parliament house at 6pm tonight.
“We gather to bear witness to Natalina Angok’s life,” a Facebook page for the event said.
“To come together in our grief and anger.”