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Murder investigation launched after death of Lisburn assault victim Natasha Melendez

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The now boarded-up house at Finch Gardens in Lisburn where Natasha Melendez was killed

The now boarded-up house at Finch Gardens in Lisburn where Natasha Melendez was killed

Natasha Melendez

Natasha Melendez

The now boarded-up house at Finch Gardens in Lisburn where Natasha Melendez was killed

Police have launched a murder investigation into the death of a 32-year-old woman who was found badly beaten in Lisburn.

Natasha Melendez, originally from Venezuela, died in hospital on Wednesday night as a result of injuries suffered in a serious assault at a house in the Pond Park area of the city on Sunday, March 22.

Detectives from the PSNI's Major Investigation Team are now treating the incident as murder and have appealed for information from anyone who saw anything suspicious in the Finch Gardens area, close to Pond Park Primary School, on the date of the assault.

The house where the victim was found with her injuries has since been boarded up by the Housing Executive.

Two people, a 23-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man, who had been arrested in connection with the death, have since been released pending further investigations.

There is no indication of the time that the assault took place with police saying the victim was discovered with her injuries on March 22.

Local councillor Amanda Grehan carries out community work in the area the assault took place in.

She said the neighbourhood has been left stunned by the news of the death.

The thought that this has happened in a usually quiet, peaceful neighbourhood has left a lot of residents on edge and it's vital any information anyone has from that date is given to police to those responsible can be brought to justice Councillor Amanda Grehan

"After speaking to local people after the news of the death of Natasha, the community is in total shock," the Alliance representative said.

"I know the Finch Gardens area well and was aware of Ms Melendez and I offer my deepest sympathies to her family and friends.

"Police are reporting that she was assaulted at a house in Finch Gardens and I would urge anyone with information to pass it to police immediately.

"The thought that this has happened in a usually quiet, peaceful neighbourhood has left a lot of residents on edge and it's vital any information anyone has from that date is given to police to those responsible can be brought to justice.

"There's a lot of disbelief and the thoughts of the while community are with the family of the victim."

Lisburn South Ulster Unionist councillor Jenny Palmer commented: "This is very, very sad that someone so young could lose their life in this way and I would ask anyone who knows anything about what might have happened to contact police immediately.

"Sympathies go to the family of the young lady as well.

"While I'm not sure if her family lived in Northern Ireland or Venezuela, this is going to be a particularly difficult time for them considering all the restrictions around coronavirus and funerals.

"At a time like this, a death of this nature will be even tougher to deal with."

Detective Chief Inspector Michelle Shaw, from the PSNI's Major Investigations Team, said: "Natasha Melendez, formerly from Venezuela, was subject to a serious assault last month and was being treated in hospital for her injuries. Sadly she has now died and my thoughts today are with her parents and wider family circle.

"A 30-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman who were arrested in connection with her death have been released pending further investigation.

"I would appeal to anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious to contact police on 101."

Belfast Telegraph