A 26-year-old New Zealand man accused of murdering a 22-year-old British backpacker and dumping her body in bushland was ‘creepy’ and obsessed with girls, a former softball teammate has said.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia on condition of anonymity, the man said he didn’t got along with murder suspect Jesse Shane Kempson, and tried to avoid spending time away from the field with him.
‘He was a different sort of character,’ he said.
‘He was creepy towards girls. His life revolved around girls, taking to girls.
‘He was always trying to get with younger girls… he was very quiet around the boys.’
Jesse Shane Kempson (pictured) was ‘creepy’ and ‘his life revolved around talking to women’, a former softball teammate has said
The 26-year-old is accused of murdering 22-year-old Grace Millane (pictured), originally from Essex in south-east England
Kempson’s former teammate admitted at one point, he and some other men had intervened when the New Zealand tried to spark a relationship with a woman, warning her off spending time with him.
‘He was a weird guy, and he wasn’t that good [at softball],’ the man said, noting he switched teams multiple times during two separate stints living in Australia.
Kempson, who is understood to have fathered a child during his time in Australia, is currently in custody, accused of murdering Grace Millane, a 22-year-old backpacker from Essex in England’s south-east.
Ms Millane was last seen at about 9.40pm on December 1 in the company of a man at the CityLife hotel in Auckland, not far from the hostel she was staying at, which is located on the road Kempson lived in.
Prosecutors claim Kempson killed her on that night, or on Sunday, December 2, which was her 22nd birthday.
Her body was discovered by New Zealand police on Sunday morning after a nationwide search and international outcry over her disappearance.
Family statements and Facebook posts both suggest the man was troubled, battling mental illness and isolated from his relatives.
The former teammate said Kempson (pictured) had two separate stints in Australia and did not really fit in with the other members of their softball team
The New Zealand man (right) is seen riding alongside a policeman on his way to court on Monday
Suspect: Jesse Kempson, seen here in his Facebook profile image (left), and playing softball in 2010 (right), was remanded in custody accused of murdering Grace Millane
Kempson’s family revealed he was partly raised by his grandparents after his parents split up when he was a young child, and that he had lived with his mother in Sydney as a teenager.
‘He was a nice kid, but he sort of fell out with everybody, which is what happens with broken up marriages,’ his grandfather told Stuff.co.nz.
Kempson had become estranged from his family in recent years, with his father telling Stuff he had not spoken to his son for two years because of ‘a difference in opinion on life’.
The 26-year-old is believed to have been living in Sydney for several years, and his grandparents said he had fathered a daughter while in Australia but he is not in a relationship with the mother.
On October 29, Kempson wrote a Facebook status reflecting on ‘bad decisions’ he had made, some of which had ‘greatly affected others’.
‘I’ve done a lot of reflection over time and have narrowed down the cause of it all, and with that being said I believe you all deserve to know,’ he wrote.
‘My clear arrogance and selfishness has [sic] truly affected the relationship I have with people in my personal life.
‘I’ve recently been diagnosed with severe anxiety and currently take medication to keep this under control.
Kempson primarily tried to hit on younger women, his former teammate said, while earlier on Tuesday it emerged he was kicked out of a flatshare in Auckland for making his three female flatmates ‘uncomfortable’
Ms Millane’s family became worried about the young woman when she dropped out of contact, and said it was ‘completely out of character’ for her to go silent as they would speak with her most days
It is still unclear how Kempson (middle) and Ms Millane met, or what the motive for her alleged murder could be
‘Putting all that aside, I just want anyone who I’ve hurt or let down to know I’m truly sorry from the bottom of my heart.’
His social media account appeared to be primarily used in the pursuit of girls, with many of his ‘liked’ photos being of attractive young women.
MailOnline can reveal Kempson was in contact with Ms Millane in the hours before she vanished.
On Saturday, December 1, at 9.29pm local time, he commented on a Facebook photograph of Ms Millane, describing her as ‘beautiful, very radiant’. The young woman was seen for the last time just minutes later.
It remains unclear how Kempson and Ms Millane met or what the possible motive for her murder might be.
Police took the 26-year-old suspect into custody earlier this week and have charged him over the young Brit’s death.
Kempson cannot currently be named in New Zealand or on social media due to a court order, the New Zealand Herald reported.
Last seen: Ms Millane was seen at three locations in central Auckland on December 1st, a week before her body is found
Ms Millane (pictured right) was said to have been in regular contact with her family until she went missing on Saturday night. During one of his two stints in Australia, Kempson (left) fathered a child, his family said
Ms Millane (pictured with her brothers) graduated from the University of Lincoln with a Bachelor of Advertising and Marketing in September before embarking on a world trip
‘Beautiful and radiant’: Kempson, using his first and middle names on Facebook, described Ms Millane as ‘beautiful and very radiant’ just hours before she disappeared
Detective Inspector Scott Beard said Ms Millane’s body was found near Scenic Drive, which leads through the Waitakere Ranges, a popular parkland west of Auckland.
She was discovered about ten yards from the side of the road, hidden in bushland, with her body believed to have been taken there in a rented red Toyota Corolla.
The red Toyota was then rented out again to persons unrelated to the investigation, and it was eventually seized by police some 190 miles from Auckland, in the small tourist town of Taupo.
A former flatmate of Kempson, who lived with him in New Zealand, told MailOnline she and her other two female flatmates asked him to leave after just six weeks, because he made them ‘uncomfortable’.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, now lives in London but said she was sickened when she learned of the accused man’s identity.
Kempson’s former flatmate has said he was a ‘fantasist and a liar’ who would completely change personality when he drank
‘It almost made me ill,’ she said. ‘I remembered him immediately from when we all shared a flat together in Auckland in 2016.
‘He was a fantasist and a liar. I caught him out big time and it made the three of us very unhappy that he was in our home.’
The woman, 23, said Kempson arrived at their flat after responding to an advertisement and paid the first month rent in advance as was required.
‘He told us that his parents were big in buying up property and restaurants in Australia and we believed him,’ she said.
‘But then he later told us that he was negotiating to buy a restaurant in The Viaduct in Auckland. But I knew that had to be a lie.
‘The restaurant is owned by my family and I knew my relative wasn’t selling up.’
The housemate said this startled her and the other two women and they felt more uncomfortable when Kempson would drink heavily, although he was never aggressive or made any sexual advances towards them.
‘His chest would come out and he would be brash. His persona would change completely and he would be speaking with a different voice.’
Ms Millane, from Essex, had graduated from university in September before embarking on a year-long worldwide trip.
After visiting Peru, she arrived in New Zealand on November 20 and had been ‘bombarding’ her family with photos as she kept in near-daily contact with her parents and brothers via social media.
Her father, millionaire property developer David Millane, said they last had contact on the day she vanished.
TIMELINE OF THE DISAPPEARANCE AND SUSPECTED MURDER OF BACKPACKER GRACE MILLANE
November 20: Grace Millane arrives in New Zealand from Peru. She had been in nearly daily contact with her family.
November 30: Ms Millane posts her last tweet saying ‘I think travelling has changed me I just brought some blue jeans.’
December 1: Ms Millane is seen on CCTV leaving a hotel in Auckland at 7.15pm. Jesse Kempson describes Ms Millane as ‘beautiful and very radiant’ in a comment on a Facebook photo at 9.29pm. She is seen at the CityLife Hotel, in Auckland, with a ‘male companion’ at 9.40pm.
December 2: The 22-year-old’s birthday. Her family do not hear anything from her, which is unusual behaviour. Just before noon, a red Toyota Corolla is hired from a central Auckland rental firm.
December: 3: The Toyota Corolla is returned, and eventually rented out again to persons unrelated to the investigation
December 5: Her worried family file a missing persons report and pictured of Ms Millane are shared extensively online.
December 7: Police said they had received dozens of calls to a hotline and more than 25 staff were working on the case, trawling through hours of CCTV footage to trace her movements. After arriving in Auckland her father, David Millane, makes an emotional plea for help finding his daughter. Police reveal they have spoken to the male companion and he is a person of interest. The man was not taken into custody and police said there was no evidence of foul play.
December 8: A 26-year-old man is taken into custody at a central Auckland address by police. The red Toyota is located in the town of Taupo
December 9: Police announce they are searching an area on Scenic Drive, near the Waitakere Reservoir. Shortly after 4pm local time (3am GMT), police find a body believed to be Ms Millane in vegetation around ten yards from the road. A 26-year-old man is charged with her murder.
December 10: Jesse Kempson, 26, appears in court in Auckland. He does not enter a plea.
On Monday, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made an emotional apology on behalf of the country to Grace’s family.
Addressing Ms Millane’s family, she said: ‘I cannot imagine the grief of her family and what they would be experiencing and feeling right now.
‘My thoughts and prayers are with her father David, who is in the country, her mother Gillian, who cannot be here, and her wider family, friends and loved ones.
‘From the Kiwis I have spoken to, there is this overwhelming sense of hurt and shame that this has happened in our country, a place that prides itself on our hospitality, on our manaakitanga [a Maori term meaning kindness and generosity] especially to those who are visiting our shores.’
Her voice cracking with emotion, the PM added: ‘So on behalf of New Zealand, I want to apologise to Grace’s family. Your daughter should have been safe here, and she wasn’t, and I’m sorry for that.’
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