New Zealand family finds children’s bodies in abandoned bags

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A New Zealand family who bought some abandoned goods from a storage room came home with their purchases and discovered the bodies of two children hidden in two suitcases, police said on Thursday.

The children were between 5 and 10 years old, had been dead for several 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 is still in its infancy but will be rigorous. “This includes determining where, when and how,” Vaaelua told journalists in Auckland.

The family had bought the personal and household items at an online auction and took them home last week. Vaaelua stressed that they had nothing to do with the dead and were understandably upset by their discovery.

Police first set up a crime scene at Auckland’s home last week and opened a murder investigation, but hadn’t gone into details of the case until Thursday.

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

He also said police had contacted Interpol and foreign law enforcement — a possible indication that police may believe the suspect or suspects are now living abroad.

“The research 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 am a parent of young children myself. But we have a job to do.”

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