Children's remains found in suitcases bought at storage unit auction

A New Zealand family who bought some abandoned goods from a storage unit got home with their purchases to discover the bodies of two children hidden in two suitcases, police said Thursday.

The children were between 5 and 10 years old, had been dead for a number of years, and the suitcases had been in storage for at least three or four years, Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua said.

He said the investigation was in its early stages but would be rigorous. "This includes establishing where, when and how," Vaaelua told journalists in Auckland.

The family had purchased the personal and household items in an online auction and hauled them home last week. Vaaelua emphasized 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 opened a homicide investigation, but had declined to go into the details of the case until Thursday.

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Vaaelua said identification procedures for the children were ongoing but that they have relatives living in New Zealand.

He 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."