During her visit to New Zealand, British backpacker Grace Millane met Jesse Shane Kempson on popular dating app Tinder. She was entirely unaware of the horror that awaited her.
On the eve of her 22nd birthday in 2018, Millane was brutally murdered by strangulation. While Kempson initially denied he took her life, a chilling security video has recently surfaced proving he was indeed her killer.
As Grace lay dead in his hotel room, Kempson headed out in the afternoon for a date with an ex-journalist he had been texting earlier in the day.
Then, he parked his rental car outside the CityLife hotel, picked up a trolley from the reception, went upstairs and returned with the trolley, which was now carrying two large suitcases, one of which was the same as the one he bought earlier.
Using his mobile phone, he looked up “hottest fire” and “Waitakere ranges” – the location where he would later try to bury Grace in a shallow grave.
Days later, after Grace was reported missing by her parents and a huge hunt got under way, Kempson was identified as a person of interest after Detective Diana Levinson spotted that he had left a message on Grace’s Facebook profile the night she was last seen alive. He wrote “Beautiful, very radiant” under Grace’s updated profile picture.
Detective Levinson sent him a message and asked him to get in touch.
They spoke the next morning and the killer told her he had met Grace but they parted at 10pm on the Saturday and that was the last time he saw her. But the police acquired the CCTV from the hotel which proved he was lying.
By the time of his second interview, he had no choice but to admit killing Grace, relying instead on the excuse that she had died during sex by accident, after she asked him to choke her in an attempt to make sex more pleasurable.
The jury rejected his claim and found him guilty due to the fact that he didn’t bother to call anyone and ask for help when Grace died. Instead, at 1.30am on Sunday, as Grace lay dead in his room, Kempson carried out a number of internet searches which indicate not just how unconcerned he was about her death, but how he was actively plotting to conceal it.
Fast forward to 2020, Kempson has been sentenced with life imprisonment for the crime.
He was also convicted for committing violent sex crimes against two other women in October and November 2020.
In November 2019, David Millane, Grace’s father, delivered a statement outside the Auckland High Court .
“The verdict of murder today will be welcomed by every member of the Millane family and friends of Grace. It will not reduce the pain and suffering we have had to endure over the past year.
“Grace was taken away from us in the most brutal fashion a year ago and our lives and family have been ripped apart. This will be with us for the rest of our lives.”
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