New Zealand police have launched a murder investigation after the remains of two children were found in suitcases bought by a family at an online auction, police said Thursday.
In a statement, police said they were made aware of the matter last week when the family from the South Auckland suburb of Manurewa reported finding human body parts in several items they bought from a storage facility.
The family is not involved in the deaths of the children, police said, and they are “understandably upset”.
The children — likely between the ages of 5 and 10 — may have been dead for several years, maybe three or four, Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua said at a news conference on Thursday.
A postmortem examination is being conducted to try to determine the children’s identities, Vaaelua said. Researchers are also looking for clues as to how, when and where the children died.
Vaaelua said police were cooperating with Interpol and have launched an investigation with foreign agencies, but initial investigations suggest that relatives of the victims are in New Zealand.
“I really feel for the victims or the families of these victims. And, you know, there are relatives here and now who don’t know that their loved ones have passed away,” he added.
The case was “extremely disturbing news for the community to hear,” he said.
Police are trying to view closed-circuit television footage that may provide some clues, although they recognize it may be difficult to obtain given the significant amount of time that has passed.
The storage company is assisting the police with their investigation, and other household and personal items sold from the storage facility are being investigated to establish a link to the suitcases, police said.