‘Our beautiful daughter Gracie, taken from everyone who loved her’: Family’s heart-breaking tribute to 23-year-old model killed in horrific ‘murder-suicide’ by ‘loner’ ex-colleague who was ‘obsessed with her’

  • Heartbroken parents of Grace Spinks, 23, paid tribute to their ‘beautiful daughter’ on Facebook last night
  • Horse-rider and model was found dead in a paddock in Duckmanton village in Derbyshire on Friday 
  • Suspected killer Michael Sellars, 35, was a ‘loner’ who worked at same firm as her until six months ago
  • Police said a man’s body was later discovered half a mile away – indicating possible murder-suicide  
  • Derbyshire Police has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, but it is unclear what for 

The heartbroken parents of 23-year-old model Gracie Spinks last night paid tribute to their ‘beautiful’ daughter, who is believed to have been killed by her stalker who allegedly became obsessed with the horse enthusiast after just one date and could not cope when she rejected him. 

Miss Spinks’ parents Alison Heaton and Richard Spinks both added a frame to their Facebook profile pictures after midnight which read: ‘#Stop Violence Against Women #Justice For Women’. 

Her mother Mrs Heaton swapped the image for a photo of Miss Spinks and wrote: ‘My beautiful daughter Gracie, taken away from me, her dad and brother and sister, and everyone who loved and cared for her’.

Miss Spinks, who studied art and design at Chesterfield College and lived in Old Whittington, worked as a packer at e-commerce firm Xbite with suspected killer Michael Sellars, and occasionally modelled for a London agency.

Her body was discovered in a paddock in the picturesque village of Duckmanton, Derbyshire on Friday morning. Derbyshire Police said a man was later found dead half a mile away and they are not looking for any other suspects – indicating a possible murder-suicide. 

Colleagues described Sellars, 35, as a ‘loner’ and a ‘weirdo’ who became ‘so obsessed with her’ that he ‘wouldn’t leave her alone’ and allegedly turned up at the stables where she went riding. One source claimed Miss Spinks even obtained a restraining order against him. 

Sellars is said to have lived with his parents and was not known to have ever had a girlfriend. He is also said to have been sacked by Xbite just six months earlier amid concerns over his conduct – reportedly towards other staff. MailOnline has approached Xbite for further information.

One employee claimed Miss Spinks’ suspected killer ‘just flipped’ and killed her’, adding: ‘The man used to work here. I knew him – many of us did. We knew Gracie and it is very upsetting. It’s going around that she had a stalker who was totally obsessed with her. It’s the man who worked here who just flipped and killed her. 

‘He was a weirdo and wouldn’t leave Gracie alone.’ 

It also emerged that a ‘murder bag’ containing knives an axe which was allegedly used during the attack was found stashed in a lane around 100 years from the scene of the killing.  

Anna White, who found the bag, wrote on Facebook she had handed it to police only to be told it would not be forensically examined. Derbyshire Police declined to comment when approached by MailOnline.

Mrs White posted a picture of the contents of the rucksack she found in early May – including an axe, hammer, two large knives, a flick-knife, Viagra and a sinister note which read: ‘Don’t lie!’ 

She wrote: ‘I found a 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 the police have some major questions to answer.’ MailOnline has approached Mrs White for further information.

Derbyshire Police said it is referring itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, but it has not explained why. An IOPC spokesman said they were expecting an email referral, adding: ‘When we receive it, we will carry out an assessment to determine what further action is needed by us.’  

The heartbroken parents of 23-year-old model Gracie Spinks last night paid tribute to their ‘beautiful’ daughter, who is believed to have been killed by her stalker who allegedly became obsessed with the horse enthusiast after just one date and could not cope when she rejected him


Miss Spinks, who studied art and design at Chesterfield College and lived in Old Whittington, worked as a packer at e-commerce firm Xbite with suspected killer Michael Sellars, and occasionally modelled for a London agency

Miss Spinks’ parents Alison Heaton and Richard Spinks both added a frame to their Facebook profile pictures after midnight which read: ‘#Stop Violence Against Women #Justice For Women’

Her mother Mrs Heaton swapped the image for a photo of Miss Spinks and wrote: ‘My beautiful daughter Gracie, taken away from me, her dad and brother and sister, and everyone who loved and cared for her’

Michael Sellars, 35, is believed to have fatally wounded the 23-year-old horse enthusiast – who was found dead in the picturesque village of Duckmanton in Derbyshire on Friday morning

Derbyshire Police has referred itself to the police watchdog over into the death of part-time model Gracie Spinks, 23, (pictured) who was killed in an apparent murder-suicide on Friday

A forensic tent in Derbyshire village where 23-year-old’s body was found on Friday morning

 Michael Sellars, 35, is believed to have fatally wounded the 23-year-old horse enthusiast, who was found dead in a paddock in the picturesque village of Duckmanton in Derbyshire on Friday morning. Derbyshire Police said a man’s body was later discovered half a mile away and they are not looking for anyone else – indicating a possible murder-suicide

It is not clear if the referral to the IOPC is because of prior contact with Miss Spinks and an alleged stalker or because of the weapons that were handed in which Derbyshire Police have not confirmed is linked to Miss Spinks’ death. 

Speaking to MailOnline, the force confirmed it had referred itself to the watchdog while an IOPC spokesman added: ‘We have been notified that a referral is being made by the force. When we receive it, we will carry out an assessment to determine what further action is needed by us.’ 

Six weeks ago a walker found a backpack filled with a cache of weapons on a farmer’s track just 100 yards away from where Miss Spinks was killed. 

Miss White said she brought the bag to her local police station but was told nothing could be done. 

On Friday, roads in and out of the area were cordoned off after Miss Spinks’ assailant reportedly fled towards a country park.

A primary school went into lockdown and local businesses were issued with a description of a suspect in grey jogging bottoms and a black top.

But by lunchtime police said the situation had been ‘resolved’ after the body of a man in his 30s was discovered around half a mile away.

Six weeks ago a walker found a backpack filled with a cache of weapons on a farmer’s track just 100 yards away from where Miss Spinks was killed. It also had a note reading ‘don’t lie’

A water bottle was among the cache of weapons found inside the orange backpack

Pictured: Anna White wrote a post on social media: ‘I found a backpack six weeks ago on the farmers track directly opposite Tom Lane. The contents of which were extremely disturbing’

Now friends of the 23-year-old, who lived in Old Whittington, around five miles from where her body was found, have revealed how she had long been bothered by a man, said to have been ‘obsessed’ with her. Pictured, the backpack found six weeks before her death

Gracie Spinks, who studied art and design at Chesterfield College and lived in Old Whittington, worked as a packer at e-commerce firm Xbite with suspected killer Michael Sellars, and occasionally modelled for a London agency

Colleagues described Sellars, 35, as a ‘loner’ and a ‘weirdo’ who became ‘so obsessed with her’ that he ‘wouldn’t leave her alone’ and allegedly turned up at the stables where she went riding

After realising the bag she found was close to the scene of Miss Spinks’ death, Mrs White wrote on social media: ‘I found a backpack six weeks ago on the farmers track directly opposite Tom Lane. 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 (water bottle and clothing). 

‘If this is in anyway linked to this incident then the police have some major questions to answer. The whole purpose of me handing it in was in the hope that a future tragedy could be prevented. They may not be linked but it does seem very odd !!’ 

Friends of the 23-year-old, who lived in Old Whittington, around five miles from where her body was found, have revealed how she had long been bothered by a man, said to have been ‘obsessed’ with her.

One told the Sun: ‘We are aware that she had a stalker but didn’t know who he was. We heard she had taken out a restraining order against him because he was becoming quite a pest. She’s a beautiful young woman, very popular, and he was obsessed with her and kept turning up at the stables. 

‘He was infatuated with her.’ 

Meanwhile, floral tributes have also been left in memory of the aspiring eventer and show jumper, whose family are said to be ‘besides themselves with grief’.

Friends of the 23-year-old, who lived in Old Whittington, around five miles from where her body was found, have revealed how she had long been bothered by a man, said to have been ‘obsessed’ with her 

Friends of Miss Spinks, who worked for a local e-commerce company, posted tributes on Facebook on Friday night

Derbyshire Police, who declined declined to discuss possibility Gracie had a stalker known to them, continued to investigate at the scene yesterday as they refer themselves to IOPC

Scene: Floral tributes have also been left in memory of the aspiring eventer and show jumper

Friends said 23-year-old Gracie Spinks (pictured) lived for horses and riding and took part in showjumping and dressage competitions with her favourite, named Paddy

A villager, 28, who lives close to the spot where Miss Spinks was found, said: ‘The word locally is that this was a very vicious attack and possibly a crime of passion.

‘Gracie kept at least one horse on the land – it is grazing land where a number of people have horses and there is a temporary stable. As I understand it, Gracie was looking after her horse when she was attacked. It is just awful.’

Friends said she lived for horses and riding and took part in showjumping and dressage competitions with her favourite, named Paddy.

After Derbyshire Police set up roadblocks around the community close to the M1 outside Chesterfield, a local resident wrote on Facebook: ‘I’ve been informed that, sadly, less than an hour ago a young woman was murdered on a farm less than half a mile from Poolsbrook Park.

‘The perpetrator… is believed to have fled towards the area of Poolsbrook Park. Anyone around that area please be careful.’

Friends of Miss Spinks posted tributes on Facebook on Friday night. 

Charlotte Pemberton, 23, who grew up with her, wrote: ‘RIP Gracie. Such a beautiful, kind young girl who’s been taken far too soon. Fly high sweet girl.’ 

Alicia Jordan wrote: ‘Oh Gracie Spinks… Heartbroken doesn’t even cut it… This world is so cruel.’


Friends of Miss Spinks, who worked for a local e-commerce company, posted tributes on Facebook last night with many saying she lived for horses and riding

By Saturday afternoon, a GoFundMe page set up to help Miss Spinks’ family by Abbey Griffin, one of her friends, had raised more than £1,600.

Miss Griffin said: ‘Gracie was a beautiful girl at just 23 years old she had already touched so many people’s life and what gorgeous memories she leaves behind.

‘She was a caring and loving individual and was always happy to help. She was also so so stubborn and she’d always stand up for what was right.

‘If you knew Gracie you’d also know she was horsey mad and had the most gorgeous horse called Paddy whom she loved dearly.

‘Although no amount of money could ever bring Gracie back, I ask that you please donate what ever you can to help her family at this moment.

‘We all love you so dearly Gracie, behave up there.’ 

Locals leave floral tributes in memory of Gracie Spinks where her body was discovered

An aerial shot shows extent of the police cordon as detectives continue to investigate incident

Derbyshire Police, pictured at the scene yesterday, said it was not looking for anyone else

Roads in the area were cordoned off after her assailant reportedly fled towards a country park

Its understood Miss Spinks, who studied art and design at Chesterfield College, did occasional modelling work for a London agency and took commissions online to do pet portraits

Roads in Duckmanton were cordoned off after assailant reportedly fled towards a country park

Miss Griffin also said she would be organising a balloon release from the Markham Vale business park, where Miss Spinks worked, on Monday June 28 to allow her friends to say their goodbyes.  

Derbyshire Police said it was not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.

The force said: ‘A woman was found injured in a field near to Staveley Road at around 8.40am. Paramedics attended and the woman, who was in her early 20s, sadly died at the scene. 

‘At 11am, the body of a man in his mid-30s was found in a field off Tom Lane, Duckmanton.

‘We have traced and informed both families and specialist officers are supporting them at this time.’ 

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