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Search for Briton Grace Millane now a murder inquiry, say New Zealand police

Search for Briton Grace Millane now a murder inquiry, say New Zealand police

New Zealand police have said they are treating the disappearance of British backpacker Grace Millane a week ago as a homicide inquiry, and are speaking to a 26-year-old man. “Grace is now longer alive, this is now a murder investigation,” said Detective Inspector Scott Beard of Auckland city police, citing evidence uncovered during the investigation,…

New Zealand police have said they are treating the disappearance of British backpacker Grace Millane a week ago as a homicide inquiry, and are speaking to a 26-year-old man.

“Grace is now longer alive, this is now a murder investigation,” said Detective Inspector Scott Beard of Auckland city police, citing evidence uncovered during the investigation, including CCTV footage and scene examinations.

“The family are devastated, everybody who is a parent out there will understand what this family is going through. There is family back in the UK and our hearts go out to them as well.”

Beard added: “We still do not know where Grace is. We are determined to find her and return her to her family.”

Millane, a 22-year-old from Essex, was on a year-long round-the-world trip after graduating from the University of Lincoln with a degree in advertising and marketing when she went missing in Auckland a week ago. She had arrived in New Zealand on 20 November, following a six-week visit to South America.

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Police said the 26-year-old man was located in central Auckland on Saturday afternoon. He then walked to a nearby police station where he was being questioned.

The man being questioned was with Millane at a number of places in central Auckland on the night she disappeared, Beard said, entering the City Life Hotel with her at 9.41pm on 1 December. That is the last confirmed sighting of the backpacker. Beard refused to speculate on how Millane had met the man, and said the police’s priority was finding her.

Police have also identified and secured a vehicle of interest in relation to the murder of Millane, and were making inquiries to find out exactly where that vehicle had been.

Earlier on Saturday police released images of items belonging to Millane that were missing: a watch, necklace and her passport.

Experts are still examining a room at the City Life hotel and Millane’s father, David, made a plea for people to come forward with any information about his daughter’s disappearance.

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