- Children, aged between five and 10, also have family in New Zealand, police said
- The storage locker, opened when the family took it home, had ‘prams and toys’
- Officers said they were in both suitcases of similar sizes for three to four years
The relatives of children discovered dead in two separate suitcases that was bought at storage auction have been found living in Asia by police.
New Zealand police said it is also expanding their homicide probe after a family from Auckland made the shocking discovery of human remains when they brought their locker home.
They bought the unit’s contents which is said to have included ‘prams, toys, and a walker’ on August 11.
Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua said on Thursday the children, who are between five and ten-years-old, and are not known to be boys or girls, also have family in New Zealand that have not yet been identified.
He added: ‘The investigation team is working very hard to hold accountable the person or persons responsible for the death of these children.’
Mr Vaaelua also said the children may have been inside the suitcases for between three and four years. Both suitcases were of similar size.
Sources told the New Zealand Herald that the family of the two young children are in Asia.
On Friday, the newspaper also confirmed local officers and working with Interpol. ‘We’ve commenced inquiries with overseas agencies. I cannot state any further than that,’ Vaaelua said.
Inspector Vaaelua said on Thursday that CCTV would be analysed but admitted police were in for a challenge, given the length of time the bodies were stored for.
He added: ‘The nature of this discovery provides some complexities to the investigation especially given the time lapsed between the time of death and the time of discovery.
‘A lot of us (in the police) are parents and we have a job to do and we’re doing our very best to identify the victims.
‘What I can say is we are making very good progress with DNA inquiries.
‘This is no easy investigation and no matter how long or 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.’
Mr Vaaelua said he understood the update on the incident was ‘deeply upsetting’ to the community.
‘We’re still on a fact-finding mission and we still have a lot of unanswered questions,’ he told reporters on Thursday afternoon.
‘I really for the family of these victims, there are relatives out there that aren’t aware that their loved ones are deceased, especially two young children.’
The family of two primary school aged children whose remains were found inside suitcases bought at an online auction are reportedly living in Asia
A family from Manurewa, in south Auckland bid in an auction on August 11 and won the unit’s contents before making the shocking discovery human remains were inside
Insp Vaaelua said the investigation had been challenging for police involved given the young age of the victims. Household and personal items were also found with the suitcases.
Retired officer Mr Burdett shared his sympathies with the family following the gruesome discovery.
‘When you are confronted with situations such as this one you can never forget it, you can never unsee it,’ he was quoted saying.
The family from Manurewa who bought the items from the storage unit are not involved in any way. It is understood they have left Auckland to avoid the media firestorm.
They had bid on the contents of the storage locker at Safe Store Papatoetoe online.
Auckland Police launch investigation after luggage with bodies found
Detective inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua said a post mortem report revealed the corpses belonged to two primary-school aged children
Under the practice, buyers are not allowed to rifle through the contents in depth before the auction and must bid blindly on the unit.
They are usually storage sheds with unpaid rent, and it has been turned into a popular US reality TV show, Storage Wars.
When they win the auction, they are then allowed to properly look through the unit.
A director of storage company Safe Store Ltd, who wished to not be identified, said the company was co-operating with police in their investigation.
‘We won’t say anything because it is under police investigation, and we are co-operating with police,’ the director said.
In the case of the Kiwi family, it was when they brought the suitcases home that they made the chilling discovery.
A trailer which carried the suitcases also had ‘prams, toys, and a walker’ in the back, a neighbour of the property in Clendon Park told the New Zealand Herald.
Detectives and forensic teams swarmed the house of the family who unwittingly purchased the contents at an auction (pictured)
‘I feel sorry for the family because they’ve got nothing to do with it,’ one neighbour, Shelton Honana, told Newshub. ‘It’s horrific, f***ing scary.’
Witnesses reported seeing three different hearses outside the house last Thursday night after authorities were called in by the shaken buyers.
The large hire trailer used to transport the haul was also taken from the house by investigators.
Hannah Grant, who manages storage company Titan Containers, said storage companies could auction off units if the original owners fell into arrears on their payments.
She said some auctions are done in person but prospective buyers don’t really have an opportunity to look through the unit before making a bid.
‘We’re not looking to make a profit off people’s stuff,’ she said. ‘We want the items gone, so we have more space to rent out.’
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