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The human remains that were found in a suitcase bought at an auction have been identified as two children, officials in New Zealand have confirmed.
Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua said the children were between five and 10 years and had been dead for a number of years, adding that the suitcases had been in storage for at least three or four years.
Vaaelua told press the investigation was in its early stages, but that it would be rigorous.
“This includes establishing where, when and how,” he said. He then explained how the identification procedures for the children were ongoing, but that police know they have relatives living in New Zealand.
Vaaelua said Interpol and overseas police had also been contacted and that the investigation team was ‘working very hard to hold accountable the person or persons responsible for the deaths of these children’.
Saying it was an understandably difficult case for the team, he continued: “No matter how many years you serve and investigate horrific cases like this, it’s never an easy task. I myself am a parent of young kids. But we have a job to do.”
The family in South Auckland had purchased a number of abandoned items from a storage unit in an online auction and brought them home last week.
A neighbour - who used to work at a crematorium - said he recognised the 'wicked smell' when the family brought the suitcase home.
"I knew straight away and I thought 'where is that coming from?'" he told New Zealand news outlet Stuff.
In a statement released last Friday (12 August), Vaaelua confirmed that a homicide investigation was underway, saying: "Police were alerted to the discovery on Moncrieff Avenue around 1.30pm on Thursday 11 August, after the occupants brought unowned property to their address. A number of Police staff have been working at the address overnight, including the Specialist Search Group.
"From our enquiries so far, we can advise the occupants of the address are not believed to be involved in the incident.
"Police acknowledge them for their assistance so far and we are providing support for them. Police would also ask the media to respect their privacy at this difficult time.
"We appreciate there is significant public interest in what has occurred, however given the nature of the discovery, there are still a number of enquiries to be carried out.
"Our enquiries are continuing today, which includes an ongoing scene examination, and the local community will see an increased Police presence in the area over the next few days."
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