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Parents of woman killed by stalker at horse stables pay tribute to 'beautiful daughter'


Michael Sellers, 35, murdered part-time model Gracie, 23, in a field, police confirmed. He then killed himself nearby. According to her friends he became obsessed with the horse-riding enthusiast and failed to cope when she rejected him. Gracie worked as a packer for an internet-based commerce firm called Xbite, where she met Sellers.

She was found critically injured in a paddock near the village of Duckmanton, Derbys, at 8.40am on Friday. Medics could not save her and she was declared dead at the scene.

Just over two hours later, Sellers’ body was discovered in another field a short distance away. Alison Heaton, Gracie’s mother, wrote on Facebook yesterday: “My beautiful daughter Gracie taken away from me, her dad and brother and sister and everyone who loved and cared for her.”

The words “Stop violence against women. Justice for women” were added to her Facebook profile and that of Gracie’s father Richard Spinks.

Gracie’s stunned workmates described Sellers, who was from Sheffield, as a loner and a “weirdo” who would not leave her alone.

This was despite her repeatedly telling him she was not interested in a relationship.

He would turn up at the stables where she kept her beloved horse Paddy. And according to one friend, became such a nuisance she had to obtain a restraining order against him.

Sellers is said to have been dismissed by Xbite about six months ago amid concerns over his conduct.

One colleague said: “The man used to work here. He just flipped and killed her.

“He was a weirdo and would not leave Gracie alone.”

Derbyshire Police has voluntarily referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Referrals to the watchdog are normally made if there has been recent contact between police and a victim of violence.

It may also concern the discovery about six weeks ago of a rucksack containing knives, a hammer and an axe close to the murder scene.

The contents included some Viagra pills and a sinister note which read: “Don’t lie!” Anna White, who found the bag, handed it to police but it is not clear what action was taken. She said: “I found the backpack six weeks ago, the contents of which were extremely disturbing.

“I contacted the police and handed the bag to them. They basically said they wouldn’t be investigating further, despite the obvious fact that DNA would have been recoverable.

“If this is in any way linked to this incident then police have some major questions to answer.”

Derbyshire Police said: “There has been a lot of speculation in the community in recent days as to what happened that day and we are working to find answers for everyone involved.

“We can confirm that the force has referred itself to the IOPC because we had contact with Gracie earlier this year.

“We are not able to release any further information about the case, but we can confirm there was no criminal restraining order in place.

“We can also confirm that a member of the public found a bag containing weapons in Duckmanton in May and handed this in to police.”

Gracie studied art and design at Chesterfield College and lived in Old Whittington.

She was an accomplished horsewoman and devoted to her horse.

Her bereaved friends have launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for Paddy’s upkeep. By last night, the total was nearing £9,000.


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