Police in New Zealand have confirmed that human remains found in two suitcases bought at an auction of household items were of two primary school-aged children.
Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua said on Thursday that the bodies found in the suitcases were likely to have been in storage for several years and the victims are thought to have been between five and 10 years old.
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Vaaelua said the investigation was in its early stages but would be rigorous.
“This includes establishing where, when and how,” Vaaelua told journalists in the capital, Auckland.
“The nature of this discovery provides some complexities to the investigation especially given the time lapsed between the time of death and the time of discovery,” he said.
The bodies were discovered by a family who had purchased personal and household items from a storage unit in an online auction last week.
Police reiterated that the family who bought the suitcases were not connected to the homicide, and are “understandably distressed by the discovery”, Vaaelua said, adding that they have asked for privacy.
Police first set up a crime scene at the family’s Auckland home last week and opened a homicide investigation, but had declined to go into the details of the case until Thursday.
Personal items found alongside the suitcases are helping provide clues to identify the victims. Both the storage unit and property where the suitcases were taken to have been thoroughly examined by forensic experts.
Police in New Zealand are now working with the international criminal agency Interpol in their investigation.
Vaaelua said identification procedures for the children were continuing but that they have relatives living in New Zealand. He said the relatives might not be aware of the children’s deaths.
“The investigation team is working very hard to hold accountable the person or persons responsible for the death of these children,” he said.