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Vic: Police urge witness to help solve murder

By Greg Roberts
02 Jan 2009 5:58 PM

MELBOURNE, Jan 2 AAP - A man who may have witnessed a murderer race off from a house before it went up in flames has been urged to contact police.

The death of a woman whose body was found in the house in the Melbourne suburb of Narre Warren is now being treated as murder after a post mortem examination revealed she was dead before the blaze.

The witness is believed to have told neighbours he saw a green Ford sedan flee from the suburban home of 37-year-old woman Mary Cook in the early hours of December 14.

Within half an hour the house was on fire and Ms Cook's body was found inside.

It was initially thought the mother of two young daughters had died in the fire but an autopsy had revealed she was murdered, homicide squad Detective Senior Constable Steve Trevawas told AAP.

"The post-mortem showed the injuries and trauma were not consistent with the fire," he said.

"We have spoken to a number of people in relation to that."

Police did not believe her former husband was involved, Det Snr Const Trevawas said.

After the fire, a man told neighbours about the green car "screeching" away.

"He told them he saw it half an hour to an hour before emergency services were called but he has then wandered off," Det Snr Const Trevawas said.

"He knew a woman lived there so he must live nearby.

"At the time it was not suspicious, it was not a homicide, but we are urging that person: if you did not want to get involved then because it was not suspicious, please contact us because you are relevant and it is a homicide now."

The house suffered extensive damage but neither of Ms Cook's daughters was home at the time.