Police have made a desperate appeal for information as they hunt for the person responsible for the death of Melbourne toddler Sanaya Sahib.
The toddler was found dead in a creek in Melbourne’s north-east on Sunday morning after being snatched from a pram while walking with her mother in a park on Saturday, homicide detectives said.
Police said 15-month-old girl Sanaya Sahib was found in Darebin Creek in Heidelberg West by four people searching together just before 3am.
Victoria Police Detective Senior Sergeant Stuart Bailey said the toddler was with her 22-year-old mother, Sofina Nikat from Mitcham, at Olympic Park about 10am, when the little girl was grabbed and taken.
“[Ms Nikat] noticed a male walking towards her, that male has folded in behind her and has then pushed her to the ground, has taken the child from the pram and run in a south-westerly direction on the eastern side of Darebin Creek,” Det Sen Sgt Bailey said.
“He crossed over a footbridge that then takes you into the Northland Shopping Centre area and perhaps towards Woods Street.
“This is obviously extremely concerning for Victoria Police if this is a random abduction.”
Det Sen Sgt Bailey said police believed it was a random attack.
Emergency services conducted a line search of the area on Sunday afternoon to look for clues.
The man has been described as between 20 and 30 years of age, about six feet tall with short dark hair and not wearing shoes.
Police said he was wearing black pants and a black zipper top.
They said he had dark skin and smelt heavily of alcohol.
Det Sen Sgt Bailey said Ms Nikat had tried to chase the man, but was unable to and returned to her friend’s home and contacted police.
He said authorities had worked hard to find the girl when she was reported missing, but she was found in the early hours by a local family who had once lost a child and wanted to assist.
Police said clothing on the body found in the creek matched that reported on the missing toddler.
Heidelberg West residents Michelle and Faye left a floral tribute near the scene and said they knew of the family.
“I just wanted to put flowers for the baby,” Michelle said.
“I couldn’t sleep knowing she was out here somewhere.
“I was hoping she was alive.”
Detectives will on Monday door-knock streets in Melbourne’s north-east.
Anyone who saw the incident or has any information has been urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.