Inside tower where teen died
THE EQ Tower in Melbourne's CBD is advertised as the perfect place to experience the best of what the city has to offer.
But in the early hours of Saturday morning it became a crime scene, when 19-year-old Melbourne woman Laa Chol was killed in an attack during a party in one of the building's apartments.
Police were called to the EQ Tower on A'Beckett Street at around 5am, following reports that
Ms Chol had been stabbed.
The building opened in May last year and has quickly become a popular location for both tourists and locals wanting somewhere cheap and convenient to stay in the CBD.
Police say Ms Chol was part of a group who had rented a short term stay apartment in the building.
During the course of the night, a "second group" arrived at the address on the 56th floor, and "a dispute of some nature occurred resulting in the victim being assaulted".
About a quarter of the EQ Tower's 633 apartments are short-term stays, according to Melbourne Real Estate, which manages rentals in the A'Beckett St address.
The building's serviced apartments come with fully equipped kitchens, some with balconies, and cost between $100 and $150 to rent for an evening. There are also multiple one bedroom and two bedroom apartments available for about $260 per night.
Rooms at the EQ are widely available on popular online booking sites such as Wotif.com and Booking.com, as well as Airbnb. One room at EQ Tower advertised on Airbnb was going for just $65 for one night's stay.
One of EQ's residents, Sean, said apartment parties are a growing problem in the building.
"This is a tragedy that sadly has been building and building over the last few months," he said.
"What we're seeing increasingly is these parties of youths getting out of control.
"They seem to come and go at short notice. Many of them are obviously intoxicated or on other substances.
"As residents, we feel intimidated that we're unable to ask them to keep the noise down."
A neighbour who chose to remain anonymous said she was not surprised by Saturday's tragedy.
She told reporters she heard "horrendous screaming" coming from the building in the early hours of Saturday morning.
"They were shouting and screaming and the girl's scream was incredibly loud … just screeching," she said.
"Normally I would call the police but they went off down the road. But it's not unusual coming from this building. So much goes on in the building in the middle of the night with people drunk."
But some residents who stayed at EQ on the night Ms Chol died said they were completely oblivious to the attack.
"Didn't know until we left the carpark [sic] Sat morning," one woman wrote on Facebook.
"We were on the floor below where the young girl was murdered at the EQ Tower on Friday night … How awful!" replied her friend.
"Awesome building but won't be staying there again I don't think. We knew nothing until we left the building but way to close for comfort," another said.
The EQ has mostly positive reviews online, but many visitors complained about poor customer service, the lack of concierge and confusion about how to check in. Visitors are required to pick up their room keys from a nearby convenience store.
Some comments also complained about noise and mess from partygoers.
"Noisy residents and smelly entrance. Cigarette butts everywhere," one reviewer wrote. "Get ready to be stuck in the lifts with 10 others. No reception … would not recommend to anyone for a holiday."
Police have expressed confidence in finding the attacker responsible for Ms Chol's death.
"My understanding is this wasn't a random attack," Commander Tim Hansen said.
"There's no sign of forced entry but we're trying to clarify what brought [the second group] there."
A family friend told the Herald Sun Ms Chol was "a very quiet person".
" … She kept her family together, she was the eldest sibling," the friend said. "She's not known for causing trouble, she doesn't rent hotels or go to parties, this was a one-off."
On social media, friends paid tribute to "a beautiful soul".
"Never thought Friday would be my last time on earth seeing you," Shushu Kishak wrote on Facebook.
"You were such a beautiful soul & didn't deserve any of this … forever remembering the memories we had.
"RIP my beautiful princess I love you."
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report at crimestoppersvic.com.au