Police remain tight-lipped this morning as the search for British backpacker Grace Millane's body is understood to be continuing.

The week-long search for the 22-year-old backpacker from Essex had earlier taken a tragic turn on Friday when Auckland police said during a press conference they believed she had been murdered.

Just a few hours earlier, investigators had taken a 26-year-old man into custody. He will now be charged with murder when he appears in the Auckland District Court tomorrow, police say.

Millane's brother Declan thanked New Zealanders for their thoughts and prayers in a message to the Herald.


He referred questions to the Lucie Blackman Trust, a non-profit group set up to support British citizens in emergency situations overseas.

A spokesman for the trust said he did not know when the family would be ready to talk about the tragic loss of their daughter and sister.

Police say they will release updates on the investigation as soon as they become available due to the interest from New Zealanders and their huge outpouring of support for Millane's family.

A car seized in relation to Millane's disappearance, meanwhile, appears to be the key piece of evidence in her death, a former police inspector says.

Retired Bay of Plenty District crime manager and Detective Inspector Graham Bell said the car was likely used to transport Millane's body, which is still missing.

The police priority would be tracking the vehicle's movements with GPS or using cellphone towers - which was possible even if the mobile phones of those in it were switched off, he revealed.

Grace Millane. Photo / Supplied
Grace Millane. Photo / Supplied

Police said they were determined to return Millane's body to her family, who had earlier spread word across the world of the talented artist and university graduate's disappearance when her daily social media contact stopped the night before her 22nd birthday last Sunday.

The much loved daughter and sister arrived in New Zealand on November 20, as part of a year-long, worldwide overseas experience that began earlier this year in South America.


Millane's father David, a millionaire property developer, then flew to New Zealand early on Friday.

Fighting back tears, he spoke to media about the "lovely, outgoing, fun-loving, family-orientated daughter" who had been so looking forward to going to New Zealand and had "bombarded us with numerous photographs and messages of her adventures" since arriving.

Police press conference on missing backpacker, Grace Millane.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said during the conference officers had found the 26-year-old man at a central Auckland address at 3pm on Friday, and interviews were still taking place.

Police have also released photos of a necklace and pink Casio Baby-G watch Millane was thought to be wearing when she disappeared, and said her passport was also missing.

They still wanted to hear from anyone who had seen any of the items, or the black dress and white sneakers Millane was wearing when she was last seen.

"You know, that property is going to be somewhere. Her clothing's going to be somewhere, we haven't found it, and somebody may find it."


Her other belongings had remained this week at Base Backpackers, where she had been booked in to stay until today.

Grace Millane seen at SkyCity in Auckland - one of the last sightings of her before her disappearance. Photo / Supplied
Grace Millane seen at SkyCity in Auckland - one of the last sightings of her before her disappearance. Photo / Supplied

CCTV footage captured Millane leaving Andy's Burgers & Bar, on the first level of Sky City, at 7.15pm last Saturday, December 1.

At 9.41pm Millane and the 26-year-old man taken in by police today were seen on CCTV entering CityLife Hotel, which has entrances on both Queen and Durham Sts.

Asked why police were now treating Millane's disappearance as a murder, Beard said it was a combination of factors.

"The evidence we have located so far, our scene examination, from the CCTV footage we have and our investigation has determined that Grace is no longer alive and this is a murder investigation."

Police had "no reason or understanding what the motive was", he said.


Millane and the man being interviewed by police were together on Saturday evening and went to a number of places before going into CityLife Hotel.

When asked if Millane knew the man before the evening she disappeared, Beard would only say that "we don't have any evidence of that at this stage", and wouldn't comment on whether the pair met on Tinder.