The key suspect in the brutal death of a woman whose naked body was found at the Kings Domain parklands in Melbourne is expected to face court on Tuesday after being arrested in regional NSW.
Scott Allen Miller, a 42-year-old itinerant who has lived in Western Australia, was arrested in Eden, on the NSW south coast, on Monday afternoon. A nationwide search was launched for Mr Miller after the body of a 32-year-old Chinese woman was found in parkland near the intersection of St Kilda Road and Linlithgow Avenue early on Saturday.
Off-duty police had spotted Mr Miller sleeping on rocks in Eden's Snug Cove wharf precinct and arrested him about 3.30pm. He was held in custody and is scheduled to appear in a Batemans Bay court.
The woman was believed to have been on her way to work on Saturday when she was chased and assaulted in an apparently random attack about 5.30am, the Homicide Squad’s Detective Inspector John Potter said.
"This is a particularly violent assault on this woman. She has been sexually assaulted and she has been physically assaulted,” he said.
Detective Inspector Potter said something discovered at the scene had directed police towards Mr Miller, a homeless man who had been sleeping rough at the nearby Janet Lady Clarke rotunda. Mr Miller was believed to have arrived in Melbourne about six weeks ago.
Shortly before confirming the arrest, police released images of Mr Miller walking with another man along Swanston Street and then up towards the Carlton Club hotel on Bourke Street about 1.50am on Saturday. It is understood the pair were not known to each other.
On Monday evening, police said the man in the CCTV footage had made contact and had been interviewed at St Kilda Road police station. He has since made a statement to police. He is not a suspect.
Earlier on Monday, Detective Inspector Potter said Mr Miller had been ejected from the hotel at about 5am and left alone.
About 15 minutes later he was seen walking south along St Kilda Road. The victim, who was yet to be officially identified, was seen on St Kilda Road about 5.30am, walking north near the Melburnian apartment building in Southbank.
Detective Inspector Potter said closed circuit television footage showed a woman believed to be the victim being chased by a man across St Kilda Road towards the Police Memorial, where the body was later found.
He said a witness claimed to have seen a woman and a man on the grass in the crime scene area at about 6.45am.
Detective Inspector Potter said it was hard to identify the person chasing the woman in the CCTV footage, but timing suggested it had been Mr Miller. Asked if Mr Miller was the investigation’s key suspect, the detective inspector said: “yes”.
He said detectives had been in contact with some of the woman’s relatives in China and were discussing “an opportunity to confirm her identity”.
The Salvation Army's Brendan Nottle earlier told Fairfax Media that Mr Miller was a loner who kept to himself and shunned help with accommodation.
Anyone with information about the death is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
- With Blake Foden, Eden Magnet