A woman in South Korea has been arrested in connection with two suitcases purchased at a storage facility auction in New Zealand that were found to contain the bodies of two children.
The unnamed woman, who is 42 years old and believed to be the mother of the children, was arrested late last week, CNN reported. The woman reportedly moved to South Korea years ago, sometime after the suitcases were abandoned at the New Zealand storage facility.
In a press release, New Zealand Detective Inspector Tofilau Fa’amanuia Vaaelua said that police have applied to have the woman extradited back to New Zealand to face charges for the children’s death.
“To have someone in custody overseas within such a short period of time has all been down to the assistance of the Korean authorities and the coordination by our NZ Police Interpol staff,” Vaaelua said.
The children had previously been identified, but their names were not released to the public. The woman’s name has not been released to avoid identifying the children.
The bodies were found in August after a family purchased a trailer full of items at a storage auction, including the two suitcases. The BBC reported at the time that the children had likely been dead for years. The outlet added that the children were between 5 and 10 years old when they died.
“The nature of this discovery provides some complexities to the investigation,” Vaaelua said in a press release on August 18.
Authorities used personal and household items that were found along with the suitcases to identify the children, as well as watching surveillance footage from the storage facility.
Vaaelua also insisted that the family that bought the suitcases at auction had no connection to the deaths and were distraught over the discovery.
“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. This includes establishing when, where, and how,” Vaaelua said in the press release. “[W]e are continuing to treat this matter very seriously and we are determined to hold the person, or persons, responsible for the deaths of these children to account.”
“Police can confirm the discovery of these children’s remains occurred after the residents of the Moncrieff Avenue property brought unowned property back to their address from a storage facility,” he added.
At a news conference, Vaaelua offered sympathy for the family of the victims.
“I really feel for the victims or the family of these victims. And, you know right here, right now, there are relatives out there that aren’t aware that their loved ones have deceased,” he said, according to CNN.