The disappearance of 22-year-old British backpacker Grace Millane is being treated as a homicide by New Zealand police.
- Ms Millane was last seen at a hotel on December 1 with a 26-year-old man
- Police are questioning the man
- Authorities have not found Ms Millane’s body, and her watch, necklace and passport are still missing
The 26-year-old man Ms Millane was with when she was last seen is being questioned by authorities, and Detective Inspector Scott Beard said investigators had enough information to confirm she was murdered.
The man was found at a central Auckland address by police at about 3:00pm local time on Saturday.
“He was brought back here to the Auckland Central Police Station and is currently speaking to us in relation to the murder of Grace Millane,” Inspector Beard told reporters.
“Sadly the evidence we have gathered to this point of the inquiry has established that this is a homicide.
“Grace’s family have been advised of this development and they are devastated.”
Inspector Beard said that, along with information provided by the 26-year-old, CCTV footage and a “scene examination” indicated Ms Millane was dead.
However police have not been able to locate her body.
“We still do not know where Grace is, we are determined to find her and return her to her family,” Inspector Beard said.
Images of her pale pink watch and silver necklace were released by police after it was noted they were missing from her belongings at the backpackers hostel where she was staying.
Her passport is also missing.
Police believe she may have had the items with her on the night of her disappearance.
‘Lovely, family-orientated’ woman was on gap year
Ms Millane was in New Zealand on a gap year, having arrived in the country on November 20.
She had daily contact with her loved ones via social media but her father, David Millane, said the family last heard from her on December 1.
“Grace is a lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter,” Mr Millane said on Friday.
“Grace has never been out of contact for this amount of time and is usually in daily contact with either her mother, myself or her two brothers.”
Ms Millane was last seen at CityLife Hotel in Auckland at 9.41pm on December 1, accompanied by the 26-year-old man.
The pair were seen together at several places on the night.
Police have no evidence to suggest the pair knew each other before December 1, Inspector Beard said.
“I’m not going to speculate on how they met,” he said.
“The issue here is Grace is still missing and we want to find her.
“Everyone who is a parent out there will understand and appreciate what the family is going through.
“Our hearts go out to them.”