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Social Media Murders: what happened to Grace Millane?

The new series will look at the role of social media in terrible crimes

grace millane itv social media
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
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ITV's new true-crime series Social Media Murders starts on Monday night and explores three shocking crimes that resulted in the death of a young person, focusing on the unsettling role social media played in bringing together the culprit and the victim. 

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The first of the three films, which will run over consecutive nights, looks at the murder of Grace Millane, a 22-year-old British backpacker who went missing while on a Tinder date in Auckland in 2018. 

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A week after Grace’s disappearance, 26-year-old Jesse Kempson was arrested and later convicted of Grace’s murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. 

What happened to Grace Millane?

Grace Millane was a British tourist who, after graduating from the University of Lincoln with a bachelor's degree in advertising and marketing, went on a backpacking tour during her gap year.

Grace was on a two-week stay in New Zealand after spending six weeks in South America. She landed in the country on 20 November 2018 and travelled around the upper North Island before arriving in Auckland on 30 November.

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She was last seen at 9:41 pm at the CityLife Hotel on Queen Street with Jesse Kempson, with whom she had met via Tinder and arranged to meet a day before her 22nd birthday. 

rest in peace social media murders© Photo: Getty Images

Grace's murder sparked international attention

When Grace didn’t reply to birthday messages on 2nd December, her parents began to worry and police started to investigate when she was reported missing three days later. 

Police initially stated that there was "no evidence of foul play" before later gathering evidence that she was "no longer alive". Jesse was charged with her murder on 8 December. 

A day later Grace’s body was found off Scenic Drive in the Waitākere Ranges around 19 km (12 mi) west of central Auckland. 

What happened to Jesse Kempson?

Jesse was taken into custody on 8 December 2018 and appeared in the Auckland District Court on 10 December, charged with murdering Grace. 

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His trial began on 4 November 2019, where Jesse reaffirmed his earlier not guilty plea. He was found guilty by the jury after a three-week trial and was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years

social media murders jesse© Photo: Getty Images

Jesse Kempson was found guilty of Grace's murder

In 2020 it was revealed that Jesse raped another British tourist eight months before he murdered Grace and had also been convicted of a series of offences against a former partner.

He has now been sentenced to a total of 11 years in jail for the two recent trials, to be served concurrently with the 17-year minimum sentence for Grace’s murder. 

What to expect of the film

As well as documenting the night of Grace’s disappearance and the trial of Jesse Kempson that followed, the episode will look at the role that a dating app played in bringing these two individuals together. 

Using CCTV and interview footage of Jesse Kempson as well as exclusive interviews with the investigators closest to the case, the film will tell the story that sparked international attention. 

Other individuals also speak for the first time, including Grace’s friends, a fellow traveller and former flatmate of Jesse Kempson.

Social Media Murders will air on ITV2 on Monday 15 Nov at 9pm. 

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