Published: Sat, December 08, 2018
World News | By Sandy Lane

Detectives searching for missing backpacker believe she was murdered

Detectives searching for missing backpacker believe she was murdered

A week of fading hopes for British backpacker Grace Millane has come to a devastating end with police saying they believe she has been murdered - although no body has been found. "We are determined to find her and return her to her family".

"Sadly, the evidence we have gathered to this point of the enquiry has established that this is a homicide", Auckland City Police's Detective Inspector Scott Beard said in a statement on Saturday afternoon.

The 26-year-old man was questioned by detectives after he was traced by police to at an address in central Auckland on Saturday afternoon.

The announcement follows a review of CCTV footage, the forensic examination of a hotel where she was last seen on Saturday 1 December, and the discovery of a vehicle.

He also confirmed that the 26-year-old being questioned is the man who was identified as a person of interest on Friday.

They said that several of Ms Millane's possessions, including her passport, were missing.

He added the "thoughts of all New Zealanders will be with Grace's family tonight".

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Millane graduated from the University of Lincoln in September before beginning her trip.

She had booked to stay at the Base Backpackers hostel in central Auckland until 8 December.

Her family have been left "devastated" by the development, Auckland City Police Detective Inspector Scott Beard said.

News of the murder inquiry comes hours after Millane's family said they were "staying very positive" as the search for her continued.

David Millane, the father of missing backpacker Grace Millane, says his daughter has "never been out of contact for this amount of time".

The last confirmed sighting of Grace is still 9.41pm Saturday night going into the CityLife Hotel, Beard said.

Asked if the pair had met on the Tinder dating app, the detective said: "I'm not going to speculate on how they met".

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

"She arrived here on the 20th of November, and has been bombarding us with numerous photographs and messages of her adventures", Millane said.

Police released images of Ms Millane's watch and necklace earlier on Saturday.

"I would just like to take this opportunity to appeal to anybody who has seen, spoken to, or come into contact with Grace over the last few days, to come forward with any detail, no matter how small, and contact the investigation team", he said.

The graduate's birthday was on Sunday but she did not contact her family.

Fighting back tears, he told a press conference: "Grace is a lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter".

"As a family we have been extremely concerned for her welfare", he said.

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