Letter tells of 'bloodcurdling scream' on day Phoebe died
Down a garbage chute ... 24-year-old Phoebe Handsjuk. Photo: Supplied
The family of a young Melbourne woman who died in mysterious circumstances in the garbage disposal chute of a St Kilda Road apartment block are appealing for the author of an anonymous letter that contains possible clues about her death to contact police.
Victorian Coroner Peter White is considering whether to hold an inquest into the December 2010 death of 24-year-old Phoebe Handsjuk, who was found in the garbage compacting room at the bottom of the Balencea apartment building after plunging 12 storeys inside a garbage chute.
A lawyer representing Phoebe's mother in the coronial process, James Isles, received an anonymous letter on January 6 in which the writer referred to hearing a "bloodcurdling scream by a female" coming from a lane close to the Balencea building on the day Phoebe died.
"Then I was even more disturbed when I learnt that a lot of blood was found on the garage door ... in Queens Lane," the letter states.
The letter has been passed to police and Fairfax Media understands the laneway and garage have been searched for signs of blood.
Phoebe's grandfather, Lorne Campbell, said it was important for the author of the letter to contact South Melbourne detective Brendan Payne, who is investigating the mysterious death at the request of Coroner White.
Lawyers for Phoebe's family have urged Coroner White to hold an inquest into her death, saying there was sufficient evidence to suggest she may have been murdered.
However, the lawyer representing Phoebe's then boyfriend, Antony Hampel, said an inquest was not necessary because there was not enough evidence to suggest homicide.
Mr Hampel, 45, is the son of retired Victorian Supreme Court justice George Hampel and stepson of County Court judge Felicity Hampel.
Homicide squad detectives initially investigated Phoebe's death but passed the case to detectives from the South Melbourne police station within five days.
Mr Campbell, a retired detective, and other members of Phoebe's family are critical of the homicide squad's initial investigation, claiming vital evidence was not properly gathered and statements were not taken from all relevant people.
The homicide squad determined Phoebe most likely killed herself - albeit in a way some of the state's most experienced detectives had never seen before.
Phoebe was suffering depression at the time of her death and had been drinking and taking prescription medication.
In a directions hearing in December, Coroner White requested Detective Payne undertake further inquiries, including determining the location of Phoebe's mobile phone in the hours before her death and the precise time Mr Hampel returned to the couple's apartment and whether he used a key to access it before she died.
Coroner White also asked for more information from the manufacturer of the garbage disposal system and extra CCTV footage from the apartment building's cameras.
Phoebe's family and Mr Hampel's legal team have until the end of the month to make submissions to Coroner White as to why there should or should not be an inquest into her death.
For help or information visit beyondblue.org.au, call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251, or Lifeline on 131 114.