Northland woman found dead in Melbourne apartment

By NZ Herald

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A young Northland woman lay dead in her apartment in Melbourne for days before she was found.

The body of Zahra Hammond, 26, a former Whangarei Girls High School student, was discovered in her bed at her home, in the suburb of Williamstown, on Saturday.

Police there are investigating the circumstances surrounding her death, but it is understood medication may have been involved.

Sergeant Glenn Edwards, of Williamstown Police, said: "The detectives have the files at the moment, but some medication was involved.

Mr Edwards said results from an autopsy in the next few days would indicate for sure whether Miss Hammond had anything in her system.

Meanwhile her extended family in Auckland and Whangarei have gathered to support her mother and three teenaged siblings. The family lost their father a few years ago in a forestry accident in Australia.

Cousin Kelly Gillard, of Auckland, said the family were devastated at the news. "We're just shattered," Ms Gillard said through tears.

"She was such a beautiful girl and she loved her family and friends. There was nothing wrong with her at all. We're just at a loss, we don't know what's happened."

Miss Hammond attended Whangarei Girls High School.

She moved to Melbourne recently and had been working in an administration job at a law firm.

Miss Hammond's mother, Cindy Lomas, had become worried when phone calls and text messages to her daughter went unanswered.

"Her mum called the police to ask them to check in on her but she got impatient waiting for them and so she called one of Zahra's friends to check in on her ... and that's when the friend found her," Ms Gillard said.

The family are now fundraising to bring the body back home.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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