A man accused of killing Grace Millane, a 22-year-old backpacker from the UK who went missing in Auckland on 1 December, allegedly wrote a chilling comment on her Facebook profile shortly before she went missing.
Reports suggest the man - who cannot be named due to an order from New Zealand courts - posted a comment on Grace's profile picture which read: "beautiful, very radiant".
The comment is reported to have been posted at 9.29pm New Zealand time on Saturday 1 December. At 9.41pm that same evening, Grace was last seen at the CityLife hotel in Auckland.
Grace, from Essex, had travelled to New Zealand on her own as part of a post-university backpacking trip. She had previously travelled around South America for six weeks with a group tour, the BBCreports. But the young woman's family became worried about her whereabouts after she failed to reply to any of their messages wishing her a happy birthday on Sunday 2 December.
Following an extensive investigation, Auckland City Police confirmed on Sunday (9 December) that Grace's body had been found. The 22-year-old was discovered "about 10 metres" off Scenic Drive, a countryside road in the outskirts of Auckland.
A 26-year-old suspect, who was being questioned over her disappearance, was charged with her murder and appeared yesterday (Monday 10 December) at Auckland District Court.
Detective Inspector Scott Beard, upon announcing the evidence that indicated Grace was "no longer alive", said that her family had "been advised of this development and they are devastated."
During the search for Grace, police released a blurry still from CCTV footage showing the young woman at Auckland's Sky City complex, where she was spotted on camera on Saturday at around 7.15pm local time. She later failed to return to her hostel room, raising alarm bells. Grace was was wearing a black dress with white trainers at the time of her disappearance.
The Essex-born backpacker was scheduled to spend two weeks in New Zealand before moving on, and was booked into Base Backpackers until December 8.
Following news of Grace's disappearance, her brother Michael Millane was active on Facebook sharing missing posters of his sister. "Please share and contact if you have any information regarding her whereabouts," he urged users of the social network.
Grace's dad, property developer David Millane, flew to New Zealand to help the search for his daughter. In a tearful statement released before Grace's body was found, Mr Millane said:
"As you all know, Grace has been missing for several days. We last had contact with Grace on Saturday the first of December and as a family we have been extremely concerned for her welfare.
Grace is a lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter. 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.
Grace is on a year-long worldwide overseas experience. Grace started this travel journey in Peru in South America and was really looking forward to the second leg in New Zealand. She arrived here on the 20th of November and has bombarded us with numerous photographs and messages of her adventures.
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."
Grace's mum Gillian, who is reportedly recovering from an operation, remained in the UK while the search continued for her daughter.
Our thoughts are with Grace's family and friends at this tragic time.
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