New Zealand police believe they have found the body of missing British backpacker Grace Millane.
New Zealand police believe they have found the body of missing British backpacker Grace Millane.

‘Tinder date’ tragedy for murdered backpacker

GRACE Millane had just finished soaking in the gorgeous scenery of Peru on the trip of a lifetime when she scooted halfway around the world for her next adventure.

The British backpacker and talented artist, who shared her vibrant paintings on Instagram, decided she would trade the peaks of the Andes for New Zealand.

It was the second leg of a year-long trip around the world after she finished her studies at the University of Lincoln in the UK's East Midlands.

However, it would tragically end up being the final chapter in her life after she mysteriously vanished - having landed, alone, in Auckland just under three weeks ago.

Grace Millane had been on the second leg of a round-the-world trip. Picture: Facebook
Grace Millane had been on the second leg of a round-the-world trip. Picture: Facebook

In her last tweet, the 22-year-old, originally from Essex, southeast England, seemed on a high from the life-affirming round-the-world trip and joked about its impact on her.

"I think travelling has changed me; I just brought some blue jeans," she joked on November 30 - 10 days after she landed.

However, family members have now spoken of their devastation as New Zealand police confirmed yesterday they have found a body believed to be Ms Millane's.

She mysteriously vanished having been seen for the last time at a CityLife Hotel in Auckland with a "male companion" - who is understood to have been on a Tinder date, although this has not been confirmed by police.

On the day of her disappearance she told her mates at the hostel, "I'm going to see a friend" and she messaged others saying she was meeting a guy.

It came after a major hunt for answers which brought her father David to New Zealand to help with the search.

 

On Friday, he made an emotional public appeal for help in finding his daughter, who he described as a "lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter".

Alarm bells started ringing when she stopped contacting family and friends - who she had been in touch with nearly daily until her disappearance.

Officers were combing an area of bush near a road in the western outskirts of Auckland - about 25km from where the backpacker was last spotted entering a central city hotel with a man on December 1.

The backpacker’s father David Millane made an emotional appeal for information on Friday. Picture: Hannah Peters/Getty Images
The backpacker’s father David Millane made an emotional appeal for information on Friday. Picture: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

 

There had been a major search for answers after Grace Millane vanished. Picture: NZ Police via AP
There had been a major search for answers after Grace Millane vanished. Picture: NZ Police via AP

Remains found at the scene had not been formally identified but were believed to be those of Ms Millane, Detective Inspector Scott Beard told media yesterday afternoon.

"Obviously, this brings the search for Grace to an end. It is an unbearable time for the Millane family and our hearts go out to them," he told reporters near the scene.

A post-mortem is expected to be carried out today.

Responding to the tragic news, her heartbroken brother Declan Millane wrote out the lyrics to You Are My Sunshine, along with a series of pictures of them both.

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey," he wrote.

"You'll never know, dear, how much I love you. Please don't take my sunshine away."

Police said a 26-year-old man seen with Ms Millane on the night of her disappearance will charged with murder.

Appearing in Auckland District Court this morning, the accused had a bid to keep his name secret rejected but an immediate appeal by his lawyer means he still cannot be publicly identified.

Such restrictions are not uncommon in early court hearings in New Zealand. During the appearance, Judge Evangelos Thomas addressed members of Millane's family, saying: "All of us hope that justice for Grace is fair, swift and ultimately brings you some peace." "I don't know what we can say to you at this time - your grief must be desperate," he said.

Court documents say the accused is a resident at the CityLife on Queen Street and is charged with killing the tourist between December 1 and 2

Police discovered, which is believed to be Ms Millane’s, yesterday. Picture: Hannah Peters/Getty Images
Police discovered, which is believed to be Ms Millane’s, yesterday. Picture: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Detectives have made an appeal for sightings of a red Toyota hatchback they say was rented in Auckland over the weekend.

A week-long search for the missing backpacker turned into a homicide probe this weekend, with officers earlier saying a scene examination at the CityLife Hotel and video footage had concluded she was no longer alive.

HOW GRACE'S TRIP TURNED INTO TRAGEDY

November 20: The British traveller arrives in New Zealand, having visited Peru on the first leg of her travels.

November 30: Posts her last tweet, quipping: "I think travelling has changed me; I just brought some blue jeans."

December 1, around 7pm: Seen on Victoria St, central Auckland.

December 1, 7.15pm: Seen on CCTV at Sky City, an entertainment complex and casino on Victoria St.

December 1, 9.41pm: Seen at the CityLife Hotel. Queen St, around 250m from Sky City, with a "male companion".

December 2: Millane's 22nd birthday.

December 2, just before noon: A red Toyota Corolla hatchback is hired from a central Auckland rental firm.

December 3, between 6.30am and 9.30am: The car is thought to have been driven in western Auckland.

Ms Millane’s brother Michael appealed for help in finding his sister on social media. Picture: Facebook
Ms Millane’s brother Michael appealed for help in finding his sister on social media. Picture: Facebook

December 5: Millane is reported missing to City of Auckland Police.

December 6: Police appeal for the public's help finding the backpacker.

December 7: After arriving in Auckland her father, David Millane, makes an emotional plea for help finding his daughter. Police reveal they have spoken to the male companion and he is a person of interest. The man is not taken into custody and police say there was no evidence of foul play.

December 8, 3pm: A 26-year-old man is taken into custody at a central Auckland address by police.

December 8, 5pm: Police announce that they have obtained evidence that suggests Ms Millane has been killed and they have seized a "vehicle of interest" in Taupo, around 270km from Auckland.

December 8, evening: Detectives charge the suspect with Ms Millane's murder.

December 8, evening: Police identify a "place of interest" on Scenic Drive, a road in the wooded Waitakere Ranges.

December 9: Police announce they are searching an area on Scenic Drive, near the Waitakere Reservoir.

December 9, shortly after 4pm: Police find a body they believe to be Grace Millane's in vegetation around 10m from the road.

 

- with AAP

 

The talented artist had been tweeting regularly and staying in touch with mates every day before she vanished. Picture: Facebook
The talented artist had been tweeting regularly and staying in touch with mates every day before she vanished. Picture: Facebook


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