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Man seen with backpacker to be charged with murder

New Zealand police said they believe missing British backpacker Grace Millane is dead, and a man seen with her in Auckland the night she disappeared will be charged with her murder.

Grace Millane, 22, was last seen at the Auckland city center around 7 pm December 1. For days, local police searched for her, but new evidence changed the course from a missing person investigation to a murder case.

“The evidence we have located so far — our scene examination, CCTV footage and our investigation has determined that Grace is no longer alive and this is a murder investigation,” Auckland Police Detective Scott Beard said at a news conference Saturday.

Police said they detained a 26-year-old man seen with her on the night of her disappearance, and will charge her with Millane’s murder Monday. They believe he and Grace visited a number of locations that evening, and are looking for information on a vehicle linked to the case.

Millane had been in New Zealand for two weeks, the UK’s Press Association news agency reported.

Beard said Millane had been out of contact with her parents for days and they were especially worried that they could not reach her Sunday for her 22nd birthday. Members of Millane’s family have made appeals on Facebook for information.

“The Millane family have requested privacy at this time and will not be making any further statements at this stage,” the Auckland city police’s statement said.