New Zealand: children’s remains found in suitcases bought at auction

New Zealand police have opened a homicide investigation after the remains of two children were found in suitcases purchased by a family at an online auction, police said on Thursday.

In a statement, police said they were alerted to the case last week when the family of Manurewa, in the southern suburbs of Auckland, reported finding human body parts in several items they had purchased in a warehouse.

The family is not connected to the children’s deaths, police said, and they are “understandably upset”.

The children – probably between the ages of 5 and 10 – may have been dead for several years, possibly three or four, Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua told a news conference on Thursday.

An autopsy is underway to try to determine the identity of the children, Vaaelua said. Investigators are also looking for clues as to how, when and where the children died.

Vaaelua said police were working with Interpol and had opened inquiries with foreign agencies, but initial inquiries suggest relatives of the victims are in New Zealand.

“I really feel for the victims or the family of these victims. And, you know here, right now, there are loved ones who don’t know that their loved ones are dead,” he added.

The case was “extremely upsetting news for the community to hear,” he said.

Police are trying to view CCTV footage which may offer clues, although they acknowledge it may be difficult to obtain given the considerable amount of time that has passed.

The storage company is assisting police with their investigations, and other household and personal items sold at the storage facility are being examined for a connection to the suitcases, police said.