Missing backpacker last seen at night with man at city hotel
POLICE in New Zealand have revealed that a missing British backpacker was seen with a man at a four-star hotel on the night she disappeared, as her father flew to Auckland and issued an emotional appeal for information.
Grace Millane, a 22-year-old from Essex, was last seen on Saturday night entering the Citylife Hotel at 9.41pm with a man, who has been interviewed by police. A search of a room at the hotel is under way.
David Millane, her father, arrived in New Zealand yesterday morning and fought back tears as he described his “lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, familyoriented daughter”. He said she typically “bombarded” the family with messages and photographs.
“Grace has never been out of contact for this amount of time,” he said. “She’s usually in daily contact with either her mother, myself, her two brothers, or members of the family on social media … As a family, we’ve been extremely concerned about her welfare.”
Miss Millane, who has a degree in advertising and marketing from Lincoln University, was on a year-long trip and arrived in New Zealand on Nov 20 after a four-week group tour to Peru.
Her family raised concerns after she failed to make contact for several days, including her 22nd birthday last Sunday.
Mr Millane, a property developer, appealed to anybody who had seen or spoken to his daughter to provide details – “no matter how small” – to police.
“We are all extremely upset, and it’s very difficult at this time to fully describe the range of emotions we are going through,” he said.
Revealing the new leads, Det Insp Scott Beard said: “It has now been six days since Grace was last seen. At this point, we hold grave fears for her safety.”
However, officers had yet to find any evidence of foul play, he added. The man being questioned, a New Zealand resident, is a person of interest but has not been arrested.
“The investigation [is] progressing rapidly,” DI Beard said.
“I understand there will be lots of questions about what we are doing at
‘Grace has never been out of contact for this amount of time … As a family, we’ve been extremely concerned about her welfare’
the Citylife and exactly why we are there. However, this is an ongoing investigation and I am not able to discuss this aspect further at this point in time.”
Miss Millane was staying at the Base Backpackers hostel and was last seen by her room-mates there on Saturday. Declan Millane, her brother, said most of her belongings had been left at the hostel.
Det Insp Beard said that police were awaiting information from British banks about Miss Millane’s credit card use.
He said a team of 25 officers were working on the case and were scouring footage from security cameras across Auckland which had helped to track her movements. The Millanes have set up a Facebook page – Help Find Grace – to appeal for information.
This weekend prayers are to be said for the missing woman at Our Lady of Good Counsel Roman Catholic church in Wickford, where she lives with her family.
The Foreign Office said it was providing support to Auckland police.
Grace Millane, 22, above, and in CCTV footage issued by Auckland police, above left. Inset, her father, David