‘A senseless, evil act’: Family of Celeste Manno speak of their grief after fatal attack by alleged stalker
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Celeste Manno who was stabbed to death inside her Melbourne home had gone to police about her alleged killer, an ex-colleague her family says she barely knew but who became obsessed with her after she was kind to him the day he got fired.
The 23-year-old and her mother were at the family home in Mernda, in Melbourne's north-east, when Ms Manno's alleged killer broke through a window and fatally attacked her about 4.10am on Monday.
A 35-year-old man was arrested after he drove himself to Mernda police station. On Tuesday, he remained in hospital under police guard with non-life threatening injuries. He has not yet been charged.
Celeste Manno, whose body was found in her home in Mernda on Monday morning.Credit:Facebook
Ms Manno's parents, two brothers and boyfriend Chris returned to the Umbria Road home on Tuesday afternoon, where dozens of family and friends have left floral tributes.
Alessandro, 19, said his sister was a team leader at her job at a Mill Park call centre run by global company Serco. The man who allegedly stalked her was one of her former team members who left the company about a year ago. Police are investigating.
"He got fired and she wasn’t close with him at all but just to give him some support she walked him out the door, and ever since that day he has just been obsessed with her," he said.
Flowers left outside Celeste Manno’s home in Mernda where she was killed in the early hours of Monday morning.Credit:Simone Fox Koob
Alessandro said the man had created multiple social media accounts after Ms Manno blocked him.
"It started at the start of the year, contacting her on Instagram … At first she was nice to him and said she was not interested, and then he kept getting obsessive and eventually she had to block him and he created about a million other accounts.
"I hope justice does get served."
Celeste Manno’s family outside the home where she was killed.Credit:Nine News
Alessandro said his sister had gone to police with her concerns.
The man had not contacted Ms Manno in several months.
Ms Manno was at home with her mother Aggie in the early hours of Monday morning when the man allegedly broke in. It will be alleged he smashed Ms Manno’s bedroom window and allegedly stabbed her, before fleeing by climbing a side fence.
The family do not know how Ms Manno's home address, where she lived with her mother and younger brother, was found.
Ms Manno's father Tony said the system had let his daughter down.
"It’s got to be changed. It won’t bring her back but its got to be changed. Too many scenarios have already happened. What's it going to take for the government to listen? It's not right. It's got to stop."
Ms Manno's older brother Jayden, 33, said his younger sister was the most "bright, lively" woman.
"She was the most intelligent one of all of us, the best of all us. She was loved by everyone – there [isn't] a soul on this earth who could ever say a bad thing. Such an amazing person," he said.
He said the family were struggling to come to terms with their grief.
"It’s harrowing. Harrowing. Such a senseless, unfathomable evil act. Should never happen, not to our family, not to anyone's family. This can't happen, it should never happen.
"We need the government to listen. Everyone should have the right to live their lives. In their homes, in their bedrooms, on the streets – no-one should be scared. Man, woman or child, this evil should not exist. Things need to change. This evil cannot be allowed to continue. Things need to change."
"No family should go through this."
Ms Manno was looking forward to celebrating her 24th birthday on Sunday.
Celeste Manno was a much-loved team leader at a Serco call centre.Credit:Facebook
She was excited to visit her new niece Daisy, whom she had only been able to see a few times due to coronavirus restrictions.
Many colleagues visited the scene on Tuesday, leaving flowers and crying and hugging one another.
One of Ms Manno's team members, who did not want to be named, said that some colleagues had been aware of the stalking allegations at the time.
"I knew she had someone inappropriately infatuated but that was a while ago. A long time ago," he said.
"I knew her reasonably well. I wish I knew her better. Everyone at work knew Celeste. Everyone."
Another woman who was in Ms Manno's team at work, who also did not want to be named, said that the 23-year-old was wise beyond her years and had climbed the ranks of the company quickly.
Celeste Manno was about to celebrate her 24th birthday.Credit:Facebook
"She had a very positive energy. You wouldn't think she was dealing with [any problems]," she said.
"She definitely loved people and making people happy. She was always trying to look out for people, do whatever she could.
"She was a strong girl, very strong. You wouldn't see it because she was all about positive energy and gave us that positivity. I don't think it was something she would ever want anyone to know."
Messages left at the floral tribute outside her home spoke of a young woman who was widely loved.
"You were my angel. I love you always. Thank you for everything. Rest in peace."
"Rip angel gone too soon," another said.
Forensic cleaners were let into the home by police in the morning and left with several full garbage bags, before cleaning blood stains off a high side fence.
A man came to replace a window at the home about 2.45pm.
Ms Manno studied criminology and psychology at RMIT.
On Monday police set up a second crime scene at the Mernda police station – less than two kilometres from Ms Manno's home – where forensic officers spent the morning examining a small blue Peugeot.
Homicide squad detectives and forensic officers examine a car at the Mernda police station.Credit:Jason South
CCTV footage from one nearby home showed the Peugeot found at the police station leaving Ms Manno's street just before 4am. An ambulance then arrived minutes later.
Anyone who witnessed the incident or with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report via www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.
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