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Police announce $1 million reward to solve 31-year-old murder of Melbourne woman Amanda Byrnes

Police say no motive for the murder of Amanda Byrnes has ever been established and no one has been charged 31 years after her death. (Supplied: Victoria Police)

Police believe a car seen with legs hanging out of a passenger door could hold the key to solving the murder of a woman in St Kilda 31 years ago.

A fresh appeal has been launched for information that could help solve the murder of 23-year-old Amanda Byrnes.

A $1 million reward has been offered by police investigating the death of Ms Byrnes, who was found dead at Elwood Park in Melbourne's inner south-east in April 1991.

Ms Byrnes was a sex worker based around Acland, Carlisle and Barkly Streets in St Kilda with her partner.

The couple planned to head to their usual spots to work, but after Ms Byrnes' partner fell ill with a toothache, she headed out alone.

Just after midnight, she left her Acland Street apartment with plans to meet up with her partner a short time later.

She never arrived, and her body was later found by two people on a morning walk at an oval near the Elwood Boating Club.

Detectives said she was naked and had suffered fatal head injuries.

Ms Byrnes' clothes and her black leather bag were missing and have never been found, but one of her shoes was found on Barkly Street.

She was last seen wearing black lycra leggings, a black lycra tube top, a navy blue fleecy zip-up top with a drawstring waist and a hood, black suede stilettos and black fingerless gloves.

A taxi driver said he heard a loud bang which sounded like a vehicle collision the night Ms Byrnes disappeared.

Police say they have no reason to believe Ms Byrnes' death was an accident or linked to a string of sex worker murders around the time. (Supplied: Victoria Police)

A number of witnesses, including the taxi driver, said they then saw a light-coloured Morris Mini panel van driving erratically with legs hanging out of the front passenger door.

A security guard saw the vehicle driving into the boat club, where Ms Byrnes' body was later found.

No motive for Ms Byrnes' murder has ever been established and no one has been charged.

Family still grieving more than 30 years on

Ms Byrnes' family said they still think of "Manda" every day.

In a statement, her family said she was "vibrant, beautiful, bubbly, mischievous and full of joy and fun".

"In some ways, Manda never realised just how wonderful she was and sadly she was taken from us far too soon," her family said.

Detective Inspector Dean Thomas from the homicide squad said the lack of answers around Ms Byrnes' death had been "unbearable" for her family.

Ms Byrnes left behind a young son, who Detective Inspector Thomas said had grown up not knowing how his mother died.

"A young son who has grown up without the loving care of his mum and he has missed out on a lot in his life too," he said.

Police believe case can be solved

Detective Inspector Thomas said he was hopeful the reward would encourage people to come forward.

"A million dollars is a lot of money — it would be a life-changing amount for some people," he said.

"We always say that people's circumstances can change over the years and someone who may not have wanted to provide information to police previously may now feel ready to do so."

Police have released this sketch of a light-coloured Morris Mini panel van like the one seen driving around with legs hanging out of the passenger door. (Supplied: Victoria Police)

The homicide squad detective said police were only interested in information about the murder.

"I understand that some people might feel uncomfortable speaking to police about why they were in the St Kilda area that night," he said,

"I can absolutely reassure them that investigators have no interest in that particular aspect."

Around the time of Ms Byrnes' death, there were a number of reports of sex workers who had been murdered.

However, Detective Inspector Thomas said police did not know whether the murders were linked.

The detective said it was also unlikely Ms Byrnes' death was an accident.

"This is just one of those cases where all of the information that came in and has come in over the last 30 years hasn't been of the quality to enable us to identify her killer."

Ms Byrnes' family said they hoped, after more than 30 years, someone would feel ready to "unburden themselves" of information about what happened to the 23-year-old.

"While nothing will bring her back, to finally have answers and justice for Amanda would mean everything to us," they said.

Police are keen to speak with anyone who saw Ms Byrnes on the night of April 6 or the morning of April 7, 1991.

Anyone with information can visit Crime Stoppers online or call 1800 333 000.

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