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Police: Remains found in suitcases bought at auction belong to school-age children

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 8/18/2022 Natalie Neysa Alund, USA TODAY
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Human remains discovered in suitcases bought by a family at auction last week belong to children, police in New Zealand announced Thursday.

Police said they were alerted to the case 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.

"Initial post-mortem examinations have been carried out and the results show that the remains found in two suitcases are that of two primary school-aged children," according to a statement released early Thursday from police spokesperson Anna Thompson.

New Zealand Police Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua speaks at a news conference after the remains of children were found in suitcases purchased at an auction. © New Zealand Police New Zealand Police Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua speaks at a news conference after the remains of children were found in suitcases purchased at an auction.

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In a news conference a day earlier, Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua said the children probably were ages 5 to 10 and may have been dead for a number of years.

Once the children are formally identified, authorities said, their top priority will be to notify the next of kin. 

"We want to reassure the community our investigation is continuing to establish the facts to ascertain the full circumstances around the deaths of these children," the statement said. "This includes establishing when, where, and how."

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Police said they were working with Interpol and have opened inquiries with overseas agencies, but initial inquiries suggest relatives of the victims are in New Zealand.

The family who found the remains is not tied to the victims' deaths, police said, and are "understandably distressed."

Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Police: Remains found in suitcases bought at auction belong to school-age children

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