The stalker suspected of killing model Gracie Spinks in an alleged murder-suicide was a 35-year-old who became infatuated with her after just one date.
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.
Sellars, whose body was reportedly found half-a-mile away, is believed to have become ‘obsessed’ with Ms Spinks after the pair went on a date, according reports.
In the wake of her death, it was revealed Ms Spinks had been bothered by a man who friends said was ‘obsessed with her’.
One source claimed Ms Spinks had obtained a restraining order against the unknown man after he kept turning up at the stables where she went riding.
It was also revealed that a backpack filled with a cache of weapons on a farmer’s track just 100 yards away from Ms Spinks was killed was also found by a passing walker weeks before her death.
The walker took the backpack to her local police station but was told nothing could be done.
It comes as the police watchdog has been contacted over the investigation into the model’s death.
Derbyshire Police has now confirmed it has referred itself to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) but has declined to confirm the reason for the referral.
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
Friends of Miss Spinks (pictured), who worked for a local e-commerce company, posted tributes on Facebook on Friday night
It is not clear if the referral to the IOPC is because of prior contact with Ms Spinks and an alleged stalker or because of the weapons that were handed in which Derbyshire Police have not confirmed is linked to Ms 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 Ms Spinks was killed.
Anna 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 Ms 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 Ms 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
After realising the bag she found was close to the scene of Ms Spinks’ death, Ms 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.
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
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.’
Yesterday, police, who have declined to discuss the possibility Gracie had a stalker known to them, continued to investigate at the scene.
And today the Sun named Sellars as the stalker who is believed to have killed Ms Spinks.
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’.
A forensic tent in Derbyshire village where 23-year-old’s body was found on Friday morning
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 yesterday, 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, who worked for a local e-commerce company, 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 Ms Spinks’ family by Abbey Griffin, one of her friends, had raised more than £1,600.
Ms 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
Ms Griffin also said she would be organising a balloon release from the Markham Vale business park, where Ms Spinks worked, on Monday June 28 to allow her friends to say their goodbyes.
It is understood that Miss Spinks, who had studied art and design at Chesterfield College, did occasional modelling work for a London agency and took commissions online to do pet portraits.
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.’