Children’s bodies found in suitcases in Manurewa: Everything known so far about New Zealand case
When a family in New Zealand wins an auction for goods left in a warehouse, little do they know their world is about to be shaken to its very core.
Upon arriving home in South Auckland last Thursday, the bits and bob’s new owners opened some old suitcases – and found the remains of two primary-aged children stuffed inside.
It wasn’t long before their humble Clendon Park estate became a crime scene and the flashpoint for an international media storm.
Detectives believe the bodies may have been in suitcases lasting up to four years, meaning the corpses – believed to be children aged 5 to 10 – may have been stuffed in luggage as far back as 2018.
Local police have partnered with international crime agency Interpol to track down the suspect, or suspects who, they say, may now be living abroad.
Eight days after the grisly discovery, Daily Mail Australia reviews what is known so far about the case.
The mystery continues to surround the discovery of the bodies of two elementary school children found stuffed in suitcases
The suitcases were among the items purchased by the family in a single-storage online auction at the Papatoetoe Safe Store
How were the bodies found?
The family who discovered the bodies had originally purchased items in a locker at the Papatoetoe Safe Store through an online auction on Aug.
They load the goods onto trailers and take them home before sorting through the shipping lanes in their front yard.
A neighbor said the trailer had ‘toys, toys and walkers’ among other household items. The family then opened the suitcase, discovered the body and informed the authorities.
An executive at storage company Safe Store Ltd, who wished not to be identified, said the company was cooperating with police in their investigation.
“We will not say anything because it is being investigated by the police, and we are cooperating with the police,” the director said.
Confused and terrified at the scene
In the Loop podcast, Cheree Kinnear described the moment journalists who arrived at the scene initially believed it was a domestic violence incident.
“At least two carriages were pulled up,” she said. ‘We still don’t know what happened. We think it has something to do with the people living at the house.
‘The rumor spreading is probably problematic in the country. We know there was a body, maybe it was a murder. ‘ Of course, the rumor is false.
Kineear recalls speaking with a neighbour, who said they smelled ‘evil’ coming from the house next door when the body was first found.
Another neighbor said her son watched the family remove the suitcase from the trailer before standing in shock at the grim discovery.
Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua said an autopsy report showed the corpses belonged to two elementary-aged children.
On Loop’s podcast, host Cheree Kinnear described the moment journalists arriving at the scene initially believed it was a domestic violence incident.
What do the police know about the children?
Detective Inspector New Zealand Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua said detectives were still working to confirm the identities of the children, who may have been stuffed in suitcases four years ago.
However, he did suggest that investigators have some clues about their identities, saying they have relatives living in the country.
Inspector Vaaelua said: ‘The nature of this find provides some complications for the investigation, especially given the time elapsed between the time of death and the time it was discovered.
‘A lot of us (in the police) are parents and we have work to do and we are doing our best to identify the victims.
‘What I can say is that we are making very good progress with the DNA requirements.
‘The investigative team is working very hard to hold individuals or people responsible for the deaths of these children.’
A family from Manurewa, south of Auckland bid in an auction on 11 August and won the unit’s contents before making the shocking discovery there were still people inside.
Has the suspect, or suspects, fled New Zealand?
Former New Zealand homicide detective Lance Burdett, who worked as a police officer for 22 years, said it was possible the children were killed and their bodies were then transported to the storage unit.
Mr. Burdett said police will investigate the storage unit and also look for where they may have been killed.
“They’ll be looking for another scene,” he told Newshub. ‘It may well be on the cards, that a person or people were placed there when they were dead and were killed somewhere else.’
Mr. Burdett said the suspect had most likely fled the country.
“They would have probably left the country if they could, because as I understand it, it was an abandoned container where these remains were taken,” he said.
Inspector Vaeelua said officers worked around the clock to find those responsible.
“The investigative team is working very hard to hold individuals or people responsible for the deaths of these children,” he said.
Horrified family discovered body leaving the city
Detective Inspector Vaaelua said the family who discovered the bodies in the suitcases had nothing to do with the deaths of the children in any way.
It is understood they left Auckland to escape a media storm.
‘We are still on a fact-finding mission and we still have a lot of unanswered questions,’ Inspector Vaaelua said on Thursday.
‘I really feel sorry for the families of these victims, there are loved ones out there who don’t know that their loved ones have passed away, especially two young children.’
Detectives and forensics teams stormed the home of a family who had accidentally purchased items at an auction (pictured)
Inspector Vaaelua said the investigation was difficult for the officers involved because of the young age of the victims.
Retired officer Mr. Burdett shared his sympathies with the family after the horrifying discovery.
“When you face situations like this, you can never forget it, you can never realize it,” he said.
Hannah Grant, who manages the storage company Titan Containers, says storage companies can auction off units if the original owners fall into arrears with their payments.
She said some auctions are done in person but potential buyers don’t really get a chance to look at the unit before making a bid.
“We don’t want to profit from people’s stuff,” she said. ‘We want the items to disappear, so we have more space to rent out.’