Detectives seize car as they search for the body of missing British backpacker Grace Millane, 22, believed to have been ‘murdered by Tinder date’ as New Zealand man, 26, is to be charged over her death
- Grace Millane, 22, was last seen at an Auckland hotel with a man on December 1
- Police say they have seized a car of interest and are looking into its movements
- Detectives believe that Grace was murdered and have opened a murder inquiry
- A 26-year-old man has been charged with her murder, Auckland police said
A car has been seized by police after a 26-year-old New Zealand man was charged with the murder of British backpacker Grace Millane.
Police are still searching for the 22-year-old’s body but confirmed that they have identified a ‘vehicle of interest’.
They are now believed to be trying to trace the vehicle’s movements since Grace’s disappearance last Saturday when she was seen entering the CityLife Hotel with a man.
Grace, 22, from Essex, England, was last seen at the Auckland hotel with the man, said to be Tinder date.
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Ms Millane (pictured) was said to have been in regular contact with her family until she went missing on Saturday night
Detective Inspector Scott Beard, who is leading the search, vowed to find the graduate but admitted it was now a ‘homicide investigation’.
He said: ‘Grace is still missing and we want to find her.’
Earlier, police in New Zealand said a 26-year-old man will be charged with the murder of missing British backpacker Grace Millane.
Inspector Beard said evidence they had located so far told them Grace was ‘no longer alive’.
New Zealand Police have announced they believe missing British backpacker Grace Millane, 22, has been murdered. (pictured are released images of the young woman wearing her necklace (left) and her watch in the hope it might lead to information as to her whereabouts)
At a press conference at 5pm local time, Det Insp Beard told reporters Ms Millane’s family had been informed of the investigation’s latest development.
He said: ‘Just after 3pm this afternoon (Saturday) a 26-year-old man was located at a central Auckland address by police.
‘He was brought back to the Auckland Central Police Station and is currently speaking to us in relation to the murder of Grace Millane.
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‘Sadly the evidence we have gathered to this point of the inquiry has established that this is a homicide.
‘We still do no know where Grace is. We are determined to find her and return her to her family.’
Earlier on Saturday police released images of her necklace and watch and urged anyone who recognised the items to come forward.
They said that several of Ms Millane’s possessions, including her passport, were missing.
Despite a major police search and public campaign for information, no further sightings of the backpacker have been confirmed.
Police released this CCTV image of Grace Millane, 22, leaving Sky City, in Auckland’s CBD, at around 7.15pm on December 1
In a tearful press conference on Friday, Ms Millane’s millionaire father, who has travelled to Auckland, said the ‘fun-loving’ graduate’s family are ‘extremely concerned’ for her welfare.
Ms Millane, who turned 22 on Sunday, was last seen with a ‘male companion’at CityLife Hotel, in Auckland, on December 1.
Searches have also been carried out at the backpackers’ accommodation.
Det Insp Beard said: ‘Detectives have assessed Grace’s belongings that were found at the backpackers where she was staying.
‘Several of her belongings, including her passport, are missing and police believe it is likely Grace has these items with her.’
Ms Millane, from Essex, graduated from university in September and had embarked on a year-long worldwide trip.
After visiting Peru she arrived in New Zealand on November 20 and had been ‘bombarding’ her family with photos as she kept in near-daily contact with her parents and brothers via social media.
Her father, David Millane, said they last had contact on the day she vanished.
Police said they had received dozens of calls to a hotline and more than 25 staff were working on the case, trawling through hours of CCTV footage to trace her movements.
David Millane, Grace’s property developer father, broke down in tears as he begged for help finding his backpacker daughter after she vanished in New Zealand
A CCTV image shows she was at Sky City, a hotel a short distance away, at 7.15pm on the same night – but her whereabouts between those two sightings is unknown.
Her father, a 60-year-old property developer, fought back tears as he urged anyone who has any information about his ‘outgoing, fun-loving’ daughter to come forward.
‘We last had contact with her on Saturday the 1st of December and as a family we’ve been extremely concerned for her welfare,’ said Mr Millane, who arrived in New Zealand on Friday morning.
‘Grace is a lovely, outgoing, fun-loving and family orientated daughter.’
Her father David Millane, a 60-year-old property developer, wept as he made an emotional statement urging anyone who has any information about his ‘outgoing, fun-loving’ daughter to come forward
Police have revealed Grace was last seen with a man at the City Life hotel on December 1 before she disappeared. CCTV also showed her at Sky City earlier in the day
Declan Millane made an emotional plea to find his sister in a video widely shared on social media
The 22-year-old, originally from Essex in south-east England, travelled to Auckland two weeks ago
He tearfully explained that his daughter has never been out of contact with her family for such a long period of time, usually contacting them on social media.
‘She arrived here on the 20th of November and has been bombarding us with numerous photographs and messages of her adventures,’ Mr Millane said.
‘We’re all extremely upset and it’s very difficult at this time to describe the range of emotions we are going through.’
‘Finally I would 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.’
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: ‘We are providing consular support to the family in the UK, and working with the New Zealand Police in relation to reports of a missing British national in New Zealand.’
The family said it was ‘completely out of character’ for Ms Millane to go silent as they would speak with her most days
The 22-year-old tourist had reportedly been staying at Base Backpackers on Queen Street in the heart of Auckland
A missing persons report was filed on Wednesday morning and police are investigating
Ms Millane (pictured with her brothers) graduated from the University of Lincoln with a Bachelor of Advertising and Marketing in September
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