Grace’s missing 2hrs
Mystery of hotel rendezvous as her father makes tearful appeal
THE hunt for a missing British backpacker centres on a crucial two- hour window before she vanished, police have revealed.
Grace Millane held a rendezvous with a man at a hotel in Auckland, New Zealand before all contact with her was lost, it emerged yesterday.
Detectives are now trying to retrace her steps in the time leading up to the mystery meeting – and admit there are ‘grave fears’ for her safety.
The developments came as the 22year-old graduate’s millionaire father arrived in Auckland to make an emotional appeal for the return of his beloved daughter. Property developer David Millane, 60, struggled to contain tears as he said relatives were ‘extremely concerned for her welfare’.
‘Grace is a lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family- orientated daughter,’ he said. ‘[She] 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.’
Mr Millane, from Wickford, near Basildon, Essex, added: ‘We are all extremely upset and it is very difficult at this time to fully describe the range of emotions we are all going through.’
He appealed to anyone who has seen or come into contact with Miss Millane over the last few days to come forward. The University of Lincoln graduate had started a year-long round-the-world trip in South America in October before moving on to New Zealand alone.
She usually ‘bombarded’ her family with photos and messages of her adventures and her silence was extremely out of character, her father said.
The backpacker, who was staying at a ‘party hostel’ in Auckland, turned 22 on Sunday but did not respond to birthday greetings from friends and family. Her last known sighting was at 9.41pm a week ago, when she walked into the CityLife hotel in Auckland with a man.
Earlier she was seen on CCTV with a group of people at about 7.15pm near the city centre’s landmark Sky City tower. But police say they do not know where Miss Millane was between those two key sightings.
The man seen entering the CityLife hotel with Miss Millane has since been traced by police and interviewed. Detective Inspector Scott Beard, who is leading the inquiry, said he is being treated as a ‘person of interest but is not an official suspect’. Officers will continue to search the room where the man was staying while detectives will interview him again and sift through more hours of security camera footage.
‘We know she was last seen at 9.41pm going into CityLife and we still don’t know if she came out,’ Mr Beard said. He added that there is still no evidence of foul play and it remained a missing persons inquiry.
Two police cars remained parked outside the hotel last night while a police helicopter hovered over the building. ‘I understand there will be lots of questions about what we are doing at the CityLife and why exactly we are there,’ said Mr Beard.
‘However, this is an ongoing investigation and I am not able to discuss this aspect further at this point.’
He revealed that Grace was in possession of two mobile phones – one English and one from New Zealand – and admitted ‘there could be more’.
‘Usually in daily contact’
Vanished: Grace Millane was last seen a week ago
Anguish: David Millane yesterday