The two children, whose bodies were found rotting in suitcases left at a New Zealand storage unit, have finally been identified by detectives.
The chilling discovery was made earlier this month after the suitcases were bought at an auction of abandoned items from Auckland prison.
The children were between five and 10 years old and are said to have been dead for up to four years, New Zealand police said.
Investigators believe they now know the children’s identities, but they can’t be named publicly due to a legal suppression order.
Police now also believe they have identified a female relative believed to be the children’s mother, who is now missing in South Korea.
The two children, whose bodies were found rotting in suitcases bought from a New Zealand storage unit earlier this month, have finally been identified by detectives
The children may not be named due to a suppression order
Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua said the coroner issued the temporary non-publication order at the request of her family, the NZ Herald reported.
“This order suppresses the names of the children and their relatives, as well as any evidence that could lead to the identification of the two victims,” he said.
“Police are continuing to investigate the circumstances of the children’s deaths.”
It comes after Seoul police said a woman suspected of being the mother of the two children may be in South Korea.
The woman, a Korean-born New Zealander, arrived in South Korea in 2018 and there has been no record of her departure since then, a police officer told Reuters.
Her whereabouts and whether she had other relatives with her when she arrived in the country were not immediately known.
“New Zealand police had asked for confirmation as to whether the person who may be connected to a criminal case was in South Korea,” the officer said, adding that she could be the children’s mother given her previous address and age .
New Zealand police launched a murder investigation in Auckland this month after the children’s remains were found by a family searching the contents of a storage cupboard they had bought unnoticed.
The family who found the bodies had nothing to do with the deaths.
On August 18, Detective Inspector Vaaelua said the children may have been in the suitcases between the ages of three and four. Both suitcases were similar in size.
Detective Inspector Vaaelua said police have reason to believe the children have families in New Zealand who have not yet been identified.
The suitcases were among items purchased by a New Zealand family during an online auction of a storage unit at Safe Store Papatoetoe
“The investigative team is working very hard to bring accountability to the person or persons responsible for the deaths of these children,” Detective Inspector Vaaelua said.
“We have started investigations with foreign agencies. I can not say more about that.’
Detective Inspector Vaaelua said CCTV was being analyzed but admitted police faced a massive challenge after the long period the bodies had been stored.
“The nature of this discovery makes the investigation a bit more complicated, especially given the time that elapsed between the time of death and the time of discovery,” he said.
New Zealand police have requested information about a woman who arrived in South Korea (pictured) in 2018
A family from Manurewa, south Auckland, bid at an auction on August 11 and won the unit’s contents before making the shocking discovery it contained human remains
Detectives and forensic teams raided the home of the family, who unwittingly acquired the contents at auction (pictured)
The family bought the contents of the storage unit, which reportedly included “strollers, toys and a walker,” on August 11 after bidding online.
According to the practice, buyers are not allowed to search the content in depth before the auction and must bid blindly on the device.
Usually these are storage sheds with unpaid rent. The auctions were even adapted into a popular US reality TV show, Storage Wars.
If they win the auction, they are then allowed to thoroughly inspect the unit.
A director of storage company Safe Store Ltd, who asked not to be identified, said the company was cooperating with the police in its investigation.
“We won’t say anything because the police are investigating and we are cooperating with the police,” the director said.