Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

Backpacker's family 'devastated' as police say she was murdered

Grace Millane Grace Millane: Police start murder inquiry
Melinda Barton | 08 December, 2018, 11:05

Auckland Police Detective Inspector Scott Beard said a 26-year-old man is being questioned in relation to Grace Millane's whereabouts.

Miss Millane's body has not been found, but Det Insp Beard said police were "determined to do everything we can to find her".

'He was brought back to the Auckland Central Police Station and is now speaking to us in relation to the murder of Grace Millane. "We are determined to find her and return her to her family", Mr Beard said.

The revelation follows a forensic examination of a hotel where she was last seen on Saturday 1 December with a "male companion".

He said Millane's family had been told and they were "devastated".

The Lucie Blackman Trust, which has been supporting Millane's family, posted on its Facebook page that they were "incredibly saddened" by the police announcement.

Beard said Millane had been out of contact with her parents for days and, especially worrying to her family, they weren't able to contact her on Sunday for her 22nd birthday.

Earlier today, police investigating the disappearance of English tourist Grace Millane released photographs of jewellery that is missing from the backpackers where she was staying.

Detectives searching for her said several of her possessions, including her passport, are also missing.

'Grace is a lovely, outgoing, fun-loving and family orientated daughter'.

The case of the 22-year-old British backpacker in New Zealand has gone from a missing persons case to a murder investigation, according to Auckland City Police.

He added that Ms Millane's family were "devastated" by the development and said: "We still do not know where Grace is".

The charge comes after police confirmed Millane's disappearance was being treated as a homicide, at a press conference this afternoon.

Ms Millane was in New Zealand on a gap year, having arrived in the country on November 20.

"We still do not know where Grace is".

"I'm not going to speculate on how they met", he said.

Despite a major police search and public campaign for information, no further sightings of the backpacker have been confirmed.

"The issue here is Grace is still missing and we want to find her".

Detectives have since assessed Grace's belongings, which were left at the backpackers where she was staying.

Millane's father David, a millionaire property developer, flew into New Zealand early yesterday.

Grace last made contact with her family last Saturday, December 1.

He said police were working on reviewing hours of surveillance camera footage from around the city, which has proved crucial in tracking Millane's movements.