In the hours before and after the brutal rape and murder of Renea Lau, Scott Allen Miller came into the acquaintance of several Melburnians who had no idea they had crossed paths with an alleged killer.
Two young women in their early 20s on a holiday to the NSW south coast, picked Mr Miller up near Warragul and unwittingly helped him escape, while a white-collar worker on a night-out shared a drink with him just hours before Ms Lau lost her life.
The young women spotted Mr Miller sheltering from the rain under an underpass last Sunday morning and took pity on him. It was a day after a jogger found Ms Lau's body in the Kings Domain.
"At the time we thought he was just a bit of a free soul who doesn't fit into society," one of the young women said. "He wasn't threatening, he seemed genuine and nice."
He introduced himself as Scott from Western Australia and told them he wanted to go north.
"He said, 'I just decided to get away from Melbourne. Maybe I'll go to Byron Bay'," one of the women said. "I didn't think he was homeless, he just seemed like he did what he liked to do, that it was a lifestyle choice that he liked to live and be free and not be locked down to anything."
The women said he told them he was glad two young women gave him a lift, normally it was older men who felt comfortable picking up a male hitchhiker like him.
In those four-and-a-half hours in that car, there wasn't a hint that he had allegedly taken the life of a young woman the day before.
Nor was there a hint of what is alleged to have come when a white-collar worker began walking down Bourke Street with an articulate and friendly Mr Miller in the early hours of Saturday morning just before Ms Lau was killed.
The pair had a chance meeting at Federation Square with Mr Miller asking the professional where to there was a good place to go for a drink.
"He did appear like your average Aussie bloke," he said.
These unwitting Melburnians are now helping police with their investigation into Mr Miller, who was charged with raping and murdering Ms Lau, a talented pastry chef who had been walking to work on St Kilda Road when she was attacked about 5.30am.
The young women, who dropped Mr Miller off at Orbost in Victoria's west, two hours from Eden in NSW where Mr Miller was arrested the next day, picked up a copy of the paper on Tuesday and the details of the alleged crimes of a man they had given a lift unraveled.
"We couldn't believe it," they said.