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Canadian grieving fiance slain in New Zealand

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand—A grieving Canadian woman is focusing on the memories she shared with her Australian fiance before he was murdered Friday in a seemingly random attack, police said yesterday.

Waikato police say in a statement that the woman, identified by Canadian sources as Nova Scotia native Bianca Buckley, is getting support from police and victim services as she works to process the traumatic incident that killed her fiance, Sean McKinnon.

“She is focused on gathering her thoughts on the memories she has with Sean and the time they spent together before the tragic events of Friday morning,” police said in a statement.

They added that while Buckley and McKinnon's families “appreciate the support they have received from New Zealand and overseas,” they do not wish to speak publicly.

Buckley was in a parked van with McKinnon when someone fired shots into the vehicle.

She escaped unharmed and alerted authorities, but her 33-year-old fiance died.

Police said the incident began just after 3 a.m. on Friday when McKinnon and Buckley, 32, were asleep in their camper van at a scenic spot near the seaside town of Raglan.

Det. Insp. Graham Pitkethley said that after firing the shots, the suspect stole the van and drove away with McKinnon still inside.

The van was found later that morning 75 kilometres away with McKinnon's body inside.

A 23-year-old suspect was arrested Friday and made his first court appearance Saturday to face charges of murder, aggravated robbery and threatening to kill. His name has not been released.

Waikato police said yesterday their investigation is focused on searching for the murder weapon and trying to build an full picture of what happened.

They appealed to drivers with dash camera footage to come forward and asked local hitchhikers to identify themselves so any sightings of them can be eliminated from the investigation.

“We have a dedicated team who remain focused on forming an accurate picture of the events of Friday, in order to get answers for Mr. McKinnon's family and the wider public,” the police said.

They said an autopsy had been performed and McKinnon's body was returned to his family but did not provide further details.

Meanwhile, communities in Australia and Nova Scotia have expressed shock at the violent crime and sympathy for McKinnon and Buckley's families.

Buckley was identified by Sacred Heart School of Halifax, which said she was a 2005 graduate.

Her parents, reached Friday, said they were devastated by the event but declined to comment further.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that McKinnon's friends remembered him as a talented musician who liked to surf big waves.

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