Police in New Zealand revealed that the human remains that were discovered by a family inside suitcases they bought as part a storage unit auction belonged to two young children.
The children were between 5 and 10 years old, had been dead for several years — possibly as a result of a suspected homicide — and the suitcases had been in storage for at least three or four years, Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua told reporters in Auckland on Thursday.
Vaaelua said identification procedures for the children were ongoing but that they have relatives living in New Zealand.
It was possible their families were not aware the children were dead, he added.
Vaaelua also said police had contacted Interpol and overseas policing agencies — a possible indication police might believe the suspect or suspects are now living abroad.
“The investigation team is working very hard to hold accountable the person or persons responsible for the deaths of these children,” Vaaelua said.
He said it was a difficult case for the investigative team.
“No matter how many years you serve and investigate horrific cases like this, it’s never an easy task,” he said. “I myself am a parent of young kids. But we have a job to do.”
The unlucky family from South Auckland called police to their home on Moncrieff Avenue last week after opening the luggage they had bought at an online auction and discovering human remains inside.
Vaaelua stressed they had nothing to do with the deaths and had been understandably distressed by their discovery.
Police first set up a crime scene at the Auckland home last week and launched a homicide investigation, but had declined to go into the details of the case until Thursday.
Neighbors told the news site New Zealand Herald the family members were sorting through the contents of a trailer laden with items they had purchased sight unseen at the auction when they were struck by a “wicked smell” wafting from the property.
“I could smell it here. I thought it was a dead cat or something,” said one neighbor, who marveled that the family had not noticed the foul odor earlier.
Another neighbor, who used to work at a crematorium, told the site Stuff that he, too, picked up on the stench and recognized it right away as the smell of decomposition.
On Tuesday, a relative at the Montcrief Avenue home said his family members had temporarily relocated because of the media attention.
The man said his loved ones were “doing all right” but wished to be left alone.
With Post wires