Grace Millane was supposed to be on a trip of a lifetime around the world. Instead, her life ended on the floor of a tiny Auckland apartment on the eve of her 22nd birthday.
Her body lay there for some time, before she was contorted into a cheap suitcase, wheeled out of the hotel, driven to the bush in West Auckland, and buried in a shallow grave.
The man now convicted of her murder was about to be confronted by his landlord about his failure to pay rent for the CityLife apartment room in Queen St.
Grace Millane trial: Jury hears two versions of events on night backpacker died
Grace Millane murder trial: Traces of blood found on fridge in accused's room
Watch: CCTV footage of Grace Millane's final date – what the jury has seen
The apartment's owner told the Herald he now realises the tenant was an "absolutely fluid and practised liar".
"He appeared to have been a pick-up artist," he said.
"It seems like that was his full-time job, like it was all he did.
"I have no idea if he actually made any money or did any work - he seemed to lie all the time."
The landlord, who cannot be named for legal reasons, says Grace's killer still owes him thousands of dollars in unpaid rent.
The man had claimed to be working and earning a $150,000 salary - but his move-in costs were paid to the landlord by Work and Income NZ.
The landlord said what happened inside his apartment was "unbelievable" and shocking".
He only discovered there was a problem when he wandered past the apartment one day and saw police activity.
He quickly realised something terrible had happened inside the apartment he owned.
"I saw the police tape on the door and thought 'oh my God I hope it's not a meth lab or something like that," he told the Herald.
"I tried to call the police and eventually found out it was to do with the disappearance of Grace Millane."
Tenant's web of lies to landlord
Just five weeks earlier, the man who would murder Millane had moved into the CityLife apartment.
There were no red flags, nothing unusual about the then 26-year-old, the landlord recalls.
He seemed, for all intents and purposes, a normal young professional eeking out a living in New Zealand's biggest city.
"He said he worked at the regional office for Woolworths … but I know now that it was all bullshit … he was an absolutely fluid and practised liar.
"He never spoke fondly of his family, but said he'd been working in a supermarket since he was 14. I don't know what is true."
The room where Grace died is nothing special.
At just 27sq me - including an en suite bathroom - it's as basic as they come.
A bed, a side table, a desk and chair, a fridge, a wardrobe.
A window looking out at an adjacent building.
Before Millane died there, before sections were illuminated by luminol, before the carpet was cut out for testing, before the police crawled, combed and scoured through it, it was just a typically boxy hotel-like room.
Now, images of the room lit up with forensic testing fluid, marked by police tape and stickers and foot platforms have been beamed around the world.
It was the last place Millane, the 21-year-old backpacker on the trip of a lifetime, was alive.
'He seemed to be very much into self-improvement'
The landlord owns a number of apartments in the building of various sizes and on multiple floors, as well as a swathe of others in and around the CBD.
It's fair to say he's not a novice when it comes to selecting tenants for his properties, and he spent a solid hour or so with the man before signing him up.
"The story he told me was that he was a manager for Woolworths and he had just arrived from Australia," the owner said.
"I Googled him, checked to see if there were any [Tenancy Tribunal] judgments or orders against him and I couldn't find anything.
"He told me that his father was on the board of directors for Woolworths and he seemed to know a lot about supermarkets."
The murderer told the owner that he was being paid upward of $150,000 a year and had a company car.
He wanted a small apartment to keep his costs down, preferring to spend his money on eating out and socialising, and wanted to keep his rent low and therefore did not want a bigger place to live.
"He was only there for a short period of time before the incident, about five weeks, and there were no real problems," the landlord said.
"My staff mentioned that he was extremely friendly.
"The room was neat and tidy when he was there and he always seemed to have different clothes, he was well dressed.
"He seemed to be very much into self-improvement."
'It looked like he wasn't working': Landlord
Despite presenting as a successful man with a career, the killer's move-in costs were paid to the landlord by Work and Income NZ.
The man explained he was to be paid monthly in his new job and WINZ was stepping in to help him pay set-up costs before his first pay came through.
The landlord found that a bit strange - given the man purported to be on a six-figure salary - but the money was paid on time so he didn't question it.
But in the five weeks the tenant lived in the apartment the landlord started to suspect he was not really working in a job.
He saw him several times during the day and wondered why a manager would not be out working at such times.
He was also aware the man was spending hours a day - during traditional work time - in the hotel gym.
"It looked like he wasn't working," the landlord said.
"He paid rent initially, then said there was a problem with his pay. He was getting paid monthly and he called me to apologise and said he would pay what he owed me and a month in advance as soon as his pay went through.
"But that never happened.
"At the stage I was going to confront him, this other thing happened."
New tenant knows room's grisly history
A day after the man was charged with Grace's murder, the landlord terminated his lease.
He had signed a fixed-term lease that would have expired on October 16 this year and the owner considered the contract abandoned.
The owner was not able to re-let the apartment for several months after Millane's death.
Police had the room commercially and forensically cleaned before the keys were handed back to the landlord.
He then set about completely renovating the room, eradicating every trace of the murderer and what happened to Millane.
"There was very little damage, most was done by police," he said.
"I paid for new carpet, got it all refurbished. When I got in there all his clothes were removed, there was nothing really personal of his left there.
"I took a few weeks to paint … I did all the work myself with the utmost consideration for what had happened. That was a healing time for me.
"There is no evidence there of anything violent happening in the apartment - no damage."
A new tenant has been living in the apartment for most of this year.
The owner said he did not legally have to disclose that a death had occurred in a rental property, but if he sold it he would have to declare the event to potential buyers.
The owner said he was sad for Millane and her family.
"I feel so sorry for them … my thoughts are with Grace and her family and the tragedy that happened."
He also felt for the CityLife Hotel staff.
"The hotel is constantly being mentioned, but it wasn't their room, it's the name of the building," he said.
"I feel bad that their reputation has probably been damaged."
The CityLife building is made up of privately owned apartments - a mixture of studios and one bedroom - and hotel rooms.
The landlord said about 50 per cent of the building, which the hotel was named after, was private dwellings and completely separate.
"People either live in the apartments or rent them out," the landlord said.
"The average stay is about two years. Generally, people stay long-term.
"Generally, the people who live there work on Queen St, they are single and they just want to be able to walk to work."
Apartments in the building rent from $390 upward.
The room the murderer lived in is valued at $220,000 but some on the market recently have fetched more than $550,000.