Floating Suitcase Yields Horrific Mystery

Woman stuffed inside had starved to death
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2017 3:13 AM CDT
Updated Mar 28, 2017 6:27 AM CDT
Cops: Woman Found in Suitcase Starved to Death
The suitcase was found floating in the Rimini harbor.   (Wikimedia/Flautomagico25)

A floating suitcase found in an Italian harbor presented police with a horrific mystery—but not, as first believed, proof of another murder. Police say the suitcase brought ashore by sailors held the body of an Asian woman who had probably died of starvation—and who may have been alive, though already severely malnourished, when she was put in the case, the BBC reports. Investigators say they've determined that the body is not that of Li Yinglei, the woman who disappeared during a Mediterranean cruise last month, the Irish Independent reports. Her husband, German citizen Daniel Belling, was arrested after trying to board a flight out of Italy with their two children and is still being held in a Rome prison.

Investigators say the woman in the suitcase is 6 or 7 inches taller than Li. The case had only been in the water for around 10 days, while Li vanished more than six weeks ago. Belling, who failed to raise the alarm after his wife disappeared, has told investigators she disappeared from earlier family vacations and he thought she might be hiding out somewhere on the ship. The Daily Beast reports that there are suspicions the woman in the suitcase might have been one of the thousands of undocumented Chinese immigrants working in illegal factories in Italy, where former workers say conditions are harsh and the bodies of workers who die tend to disappear. (Read more Italy stories.)

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