In every major police investigation, there is a face at the front - a face the public comes to know, rely upon for information.

When Grace Millane went missing in Auckland, and was later found dumped in bush in the Waitakere Ranges, the face of the police investigation was Detective Inspector Scott Beard.

He was the man who gave daily updates to the ever-growing media pack, reassured the public that his team would find Millane, and delivered the crushing news of the 22-year-old's tragic death.

Grace Millane's father David meets the team investigating her death. To the far right stand DI Scott Beard and DSS Greg Brand, the lead investigators. Still taken from BBC video
Grace Millane's father David meets the team investigating her death. To the far right stand DI Scott Beard and DSS Greg Brand, the lead investigators. Still taken from BBC video

Beard led a team of about 24 investigators in the search for and recovery of Millane.

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He will now oversee months more work as police build the prosecution against the man charged with her murder.

Alongside him is Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Brand, also a highly experienced and dedicated officer who effectively ran Operation Gourami behind the scenes.

The detectives and their team worked lengthy and exhaustive hours to bring Millane home to her family.

Little sleep, an intense workload and the emotion of working alongside her devastated family took its toll.

When Beard announced a body had been found, it was clear to see he was personally affected.

He has a daughter around the same age as Millane and Brand also has a family so would have keenly felt the loss.

Both men were singled out by Millane's father Grace in his final statement before he left New Zealand to take his girl home.

"Auckland Police have carried out the most concise, stringent and thorough investigation," he said.

"The team, consisting at times of over 24 officers have worked arduous long hours without a day off, little sleep or rest in helping to resolve this heinous crime.

"In this difficult situation where everybody is a true hero it is sometimes difficult to single out certain people.

"Despite this we would like to offer our most sincere thanks and everlasting gratitude to Detective Inspector Scott Beard, who has been a most measured, selfless, human and professional face of Auckland Police.

"His emotional media statements have made him many fans both in New Zealand and at home in the UK.

"Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Brand, the hidden driving force of the investigation and a true police professional."

Grace Millane was murdered soon after arriving in New Zealand. Photograph supplied.
Grace Millane was murdered soon after arriving in New Zealand. Photograph supplied.

Beard and Brand politely declined to speak to the Herald about their roles in the investigation and the impact it had on them and their team personally.

They wanted the "focus to be on Grace" rather than the team.

Beard has led some of Auckland's most high profile murder investigations over the years.

He is currently the officer in charge of the Kayo Matsuzawa file - the cold case murder of a Japanese tourist found dead in the CBD in 1998.

Last year he led the inquiry into the death of Michael David Mulholland, 69, in his Western Springs home.

Mental health patient Gabriel Yad-Elohim was jailed for life in September.

And he was the cop in charge when Ihaia Gillman-Harris was attacked and killed at an Auckland motel in 2014.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard moments before announcing Grace Millane's body had been found. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Doug Sherring
Detective Inspector Scott Beard moments before announcing Grace Millane's body had been found. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Doug Sherring

Brand has also worked on a number of high profile investigations - but rarely fronts for the cameras.

He was integral to the Connor Morris murder investigation in 2014.

Morris was killed by a blow to the head with a sickle-like weapon during a West Auckland street fight.

Police Association President Chris Cahill, himself a detective inspector with decades of investigative experience, gave insight into how Beard and his team would be feeling in the wake of the alleged murder.

"I think that they have done incredibly well," he said.

"Everyone would have been so motivated to do the best possible job they could to ensure that the team got the best possible result.

"It can be really hard - your adrenalin when you've got a clear focus on the investigation, so it perhaps doesn't impact on you as much.

"It's often immediately after the investigation that it catches up on you… the finality and reality of the situation."

Cahill said the toil of a murder investigation usually hit home once police had a moment to look back and take stock of what had been happening.

That was the time when it was important to look after yourself, he said.

"Talk to colleagues, get professional help - it can just be taking time to go out and do something for yourself, remembering that not everyone out there is bad, going out and doing something fun can help after dealing with something so tragic."

Cahill said following a murder investigation, a police team would have a full debrief which a welfare officer attended.

A team of 24 police led by DI Scott Beard and DSS Greg Brand are investigating Millane's murder. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Doug Sherring
A team of 24 police led by DI Scott Beard and DSS Greg Brand are investigating Millane's murder. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Doug Sherring

Anyone who needed help would get it - they just had to ask.

"Asking for help is certainly nothing to be ashamed of," Cahill explained.

"We should all encourage each other to reach out.

"Often for people like Scott Beard it's not the once incident - it's the residual build up of dealing with a number of inquiries.

"There's no way, not matter how hard you try, to not be affected, to bury your personal feelings.

"Scott, as a father, was able to empathise with Grace's father and in some ways that would have made the job easier."

He said for detectives, a homicide was "the ultimate investigation" but at the same time was terribly bittersweet given the tragic loss of life.

"Even doing the best job the can do, it won't change the outcome," he said.

"And you have to learn to deal with that - all you can do is your best, and know that's that.

"Investigating a homicide is the ultimate honour [for a detective] - you get to stand up for a person who can't stand up for themselves anymore.

"But not matter what you do, you cannot bring them back, you're starting from a really hard position."

NZ Police Association president Chris Cahill. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Mark Mitchell
NZ Police Association president Chris Cahill. New Zealand Herald Photograph by Mark Mitchell

Retired detective inspector Graham Bell said Beard's reactions and handling of the case should be applauded.

He said Operation Gourami - the investigation into Millane's death - would have been "very difficult".

"I empathise with, I've been in the exact same situation myself and it's hard, especially when you have kids of your own," he said.

"You can't just turn that off.

"But in a way you do have to try and turn your emotions off and your professionalism on, and that's hard on police.

"At the end of the day though, it's your profession and that carries you through things."

Bell said Beard was "very experienced and professional" and had navigated the various facets of the investigation - his team, the work and the victim's family - well.

Retired Detective Inspector Graham Bell.
Retired Detective Inspector Graham Bell.

Dealing with the media - including a contingent of international press - would have added to the pressure Beard and Brand were under, with requests for information and interviews likely coming in thick, fast and unrelenting.

"But you never really mind that - media are our biggest asset in an investigation like this," Bell explained.

"A person seeing something in the media and ringing the investigation team could save so much shoe leather and fuel in running round to try and find that information ourselves.

"In a case like this the media are very, very important."

Three other homicide investigations in Auckland

Millane's was one of four alleged murders in Auckland this month so far that have arguably stretched police Criminal Investigation Branch resources.

In all of those cases police are appealing to the public for information.

In South Auckland Detective Inspector Tofilau Faa Va'aelua is leading the investigation into the alleged murder of a 34-year-old mother in her Flat Bush home.

Anyone with information is asked to call 09-261 1300

Shannon Shelby Baker was found dead at a Sandringham address on Tuesday.

Detective Inspector Aaron Pascoe is the head of that investigation, Operation Epopeus.

Anyone with information that could be vital to the investigation is encouraged to contact police by phoning 0800 EPOPEUS (0800 376 7387) or email OpEPOPEUS@police.govt.nz.

Detective Senior Sergeant Glenn Baldwin is running the investigation into the death of Rima Sikei, who was allegedly stabbed to death in Mt Roskill on Friday, December 7.

If you can help police investigating, please call 09 3026 557 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.