A fundraiser for a 29-year-old woman who was found murdered in Sliema has raised €20,000 in a single day. 

The money is being collected to repatriate the body of Paulina Dembska and cover the funeral costs in Poland. 

She was found with head and chest injuries at the popular Independence Gardens early on Sunday morning, not far from where she regularly visited to feed stray cats. An autopsy confirmed she was raped and strangled. 

The GoFundMe page set up by her friend Agnieszka Gramala, smashed its €20,000 target in just 16 hours. 

Gramala wrote: "We, the living who knew her and those who heard about her for the first time last Sunday, were left with a great deal of sorrow and internal disagreement with the brutality of this act.

"Her family needs our support so that they can start focusing on mourning the loss of a loved one. They will need funds to transport the body, cover lawsuits and legal costs to get the case to its fair end."

Agnieszka Gramala Facebook post appealing for to donate and support Paulina Dembska's family Photo: FacebookAgnieszka Gramala Facebook post appealing for to donate and support Paulina Dembska's family Photo: Facebook

More than 1,200 people had contributed €20,313 by Tuesday at 4.30pm.

A prime suspect in the murder, 20-year-old Abner Aquilina, is being held at Mount Carmel Hospital, a state-run mental health facility, after reportedly telling interrogators that the devil spoke to him on the night of the murder.

Dembska was a cat lover who was frequently seen feeding cats at the Sliema garden where she was killed. 

In a separate appeal, the Real Animal Rights Foundation urged people to donate to help feed the cats that Dembska cared for, and called for a memorial statue to be placed at the site where she was murdered. 

A vigil will be held at Independence Gardens on Tuesday at 6pm, led by the Women's Rights Foundation. The foundation has described the killing as a "femicide".

Those attending the vigil are asked to take a candle with them.

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