A man has been arrested over the death of Australian teacher Shanae Brooke Edwards, a month after her body was found in Georgia.
The 31-year-old Melbourne ‘free spirit’ was found with stab wounds near a narrow pedestrian trail in Mtatsminda Park in the eastern European country’s capital of Tbilisi on July 31, a day after she went for a hike and never returned.
Detectives from Georgia’s Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs arrested Georgian citizen Rafael Mursakulov on Wednesday after an extensive investigation.
Georgian police arrested Rafael Mursakulov after an investigation that went for near on 40 days
Tributes for the kind and adventurous Shanae Brooke Edwards have flooded social media since her alleged murder on July 30
A young Shanae Brooke Edwards (right) with her family
Ms Brooke Edwards had been on the phone to a friend in the United States and was heard shouting when she was attacked.
Until now, police in the former USSR state had shared little to no information to the public about how their investigation was progressing.
On Thursday, police revealed they had linked the alleged killer to the murder via his DNA, which was allegedly found on a ‘damaged’ knife found at the crime scene.
‘After inspecting the crime scene, the body was transferred to Levan Samkharauli National Forensics Bureau where relevant body examination was conducted,’ Georgian police stated.
‘Items and genetic traces extracted from the scene underwent a number of examination procedures, including biological, traceological, genetic and fingerprint examinations.’
The 33-year old was identified after his alleged DNA was sent to 194 member states of Interpol to compare within their own DNA databases.
It can be revealed now that detectives had worked tirelessly to identify Ms Brooke Edwards’ killer, taking DNA samples from ‘several dozen’ people allegedly involved in the crime.
‘All of them underwent a detailed interrogation,’ police stated.
The ferris wheel attraction in Mtatsminda Park would have been in view of Shanae Brooke Edwards when she was allegedly murdered
LAST MOMENTS CAPTURED ON CCTV
CCTV footage of Ms Brooke Edwards captured her final moments alive as she took off on her fateful hiking trip on July 30.
Dressed in tight black yoga pants and a dark top, she was last seen leaving the Church of Mikhail of Tver for a hike up along Mtatsminda.
Images clearly captured her carrying a green bag, which reportedly remains missing.
It is understood Ms Brooke Edwards’ mobile phone was found dumped in nearby bushland close to where her body had been found a day after she went missing.
Police sources have told local media that contrary to earlier reports, no signs of sexual assault were found on her body.
Police created a composite sketch of the offender after interviewing 200 people, including friends, co-workers, neighbours and fellow hikers who were at Mtatsminda Park the day she was allegedly murdered.
After checking their alibies and whereabouts at the time of murder, police closed in on .
‘As a result of complex and multifaceted investigative activities, the circle of the supposed offenders was reduced to a minimum, whereas, as a result of genetic examination report the identity of the offender was unequivocally confirmed,’ detectives claimed.
It is understood CCTV video further helped to identify the alleged killer.
The accused man faces up to 15 years behind bars in the country.
Word of Mursakulov’s arrest over the killing has been welcomed by terrified locals, who had set up a social media page to help protect women following Ms Brook Edwards’ murder.
Shocked citizens had already set up a memorial to the murdered school teacher, with locals laying flowers at the site.
A vigil commemorating 40 days since her tragic murder had already been planned for Thursday.
The memorial was called off last night amid news of her alleged killer’s arrest.
Instead, hundreds are expected to attend the memorial and pay their respects to the beloved Australian.
Police in Georgia have arrested a local man, 33, in relation to the alleged murder of the much loved Melbourne teacher
Shanae Brooke Edwards and her brother Tyson in happier times
Just days ago a group of women congregated on the slope of Mount Mtatsminda – the last place Ms Shanae Brooke Edwards was seen alive – to lay flowers and sing a haunting rendition of ‘The Pines’ – which was famously covered by Grunge band Nirvana.
The body of Ms Brooke Edwards was found discarded under bushes in the shadow of a popular amusement park in what is now believed to be a robbery-gone-wrong.
In the month since the horrific alleged murder, reports Ms Brooke Edwards had been raped have been revealed to be unfounded.
As have reports of a supposed photofit of a young blonde male being passed around by detectives in the days following the crime.
A GoFundMe page created to help the family of Ms Brooke Edwards return her body back to Australia had raised more than $20,000 and continues to accept donations.
It remains unclear if her body has been returned to Australia in the weeks since her alleged murder.
Police in Georgia search for Shanae Brooke Edwards in Mtatsminda Park. Her body was found a day after she went missing
The much-loved ‘free spirit’ was on a call to a friend in the US while trekking when she was heard shouting ‘take your hands off me’ – before the call cut out
Searchers found this old and rusty shovel in the bushes in the area where Ms Brooke Edwards went missing. A man was also seen having ‘aggressive’ sex with a woman about 50m away – the day before her disappearance
Ms Brooke Edwards’ final Instagram post, of her on a motorbike on July 29, was captioned ‘Joy’
Man charged over death of Aussie teacher Shanae Brooke Edwards killed while hiking in Georgia