Homicide squad detectives are investigating after a mother of three was found dead in her Phillip Island home.
The body of Samantha Fraser, 38, was found in the garage of her Seagrove Way property after failing to pick up her son and two daughters, aged between five and nine, from the local primary school in Cowes on Monday afternoon.
Police visited Ms Fraser’s home at 4.30pm to conduct a welfare check and confirm her whereabouts, only to discover her body inside the family garage.
On the morning of her death, police said she had dropped her children at school before having coffee with friends.
She told her friends she had an appointment at midday, but she never showed up.
A post-mortem examination was conducted and homicide squad detectives say they “strongly” believe the circumstances surrounding Ms Fraser’s death are suspicious.
According to The Age, Ms Fraser told friends she feared for her safety in the months before her death and recently changed the locks at her home.
Police are also investigating whether there was any interference with the crime scene.
Investigators have spoken to a 42-year old Paynesville man who was known to Samantha, however he was released without charge and enquiries are ongoing.
The death has rocked the tight-knit community of Cowes in Gippsland in Victoria’s south east.
Colleagues of Ms Fraser, who worked at the Cowes Medical Clinic as a psychologist, has been described as a “beautiful woman” and have rallied to support her family.
In only one day, the Cowes community has raised $18,000 for Ms Fraser’s family through a Facebook fundraising page. The local newspaper, The Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser have also posted a white ribbon in a tribute to the mother of three.
“She was incredibly kind, nurturing and talented,” colleague Alice Bradley told the Herald Sun.
“Sam was articulate and passionate about everything she did.”
“We are all in shock, the whole town is. We didn’t see this coming.”
“It’s heartbreaking, especially for her children.”
Ms Bradley told Nine Ms Fraser and her husband were in the midst of a separation before her death.
“I understand that that had not been a happy experience,” she said.
Homicide Squad Detective Sergeant Steve Sheahan told radio station 3AW Ms Fraser’s body had been “assaulted”, but didn’t go into the specifics of her death.
Detective Sergeant Sheahan told the ABC the family and friends of Samantha had been shattered.
“Certainly it would concern the community but I can assure them, we are working very hard to try and solve this matter,” he said.
“We have a number of resources working around the clock and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to achieve a result.”
Police are keen to speak to anyone who may have been seen entering the Seagrove Way property on the day of Samantha’s death, or anyone who noticed any suspicious activity around her property over the previous days.
They are also appealing to witnesses who can provide information on Samantha’s movements between 11am and 3.30pm on Monday and asked anyone with dashcam or CCTV footage taken on Phillip Island to download the footage and contact Crime Stoppers.
Anyone with information or with footage is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au