Mother of Kids Found Dead in Suitcases Likely in South Korea

Authorities have not identified woman
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2022 8:03 AM CDT
Updated Aug 23, 2022 1:00 AM CDT
They Bought 2 Suitcases at Auction. Inside, a Horrific Find
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/ronstik)

Update: Authorities believe a South Korean woman may be the mother of the two children whose bodies were found in two suitcases recently purchased at a New Zealand auction. The unidentified woman is in her 40s, was born in South Korea, and moved to New Zealand where she became a citizen. She moved back to South Korea in 2018 and there is no record of her having departed after that. Her New Zealand address was registered as the storage unit where the suitcases had been kept for years. South Korean police have only said the woman is a possible relative of the children, but New Zealand authorities suspect she is their mother. Unless New Zealand requests her extradition, South Korean police would have no authority to detain her, the AP reports. Our original story from Aug. 18 follows:

If you're looking to buy luggage at an auction, you don't always get the option to ask to have it opened up before you put in your bid. One New Zealand family that took part in such an online sale, and what they found when they finally got the chance to open it up has now spurred a homicide investigation. Per New Zealand police, the remains of two children, believed to be between the ages of 5 and 10, were stuffed into two suitcases bought from a storage facility by the family from a South Auckland suburb, and now authorities are trying to track down who the children are and how they got there, reports CNN.

A police release suggests the children had been dead "for a number of years," and that the "understandably distressed" property owners from Manurewa who bought the suitcases had nothing to do with it. At a Thursday presser, Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua gave an update on the "extremely upsetting news," noting postmortems are underway and that investigators are hard at work to try to identify the children and determine a cause of death, as well as who might be responsible. That includes working with Interpol and other foreign agencies, as well as reviewing any CCTV footage that might offer some clues, Vaaelua said.

story continues below

The storage company where the luggage was purchased is assisting authorities in the homicide probe. Other items sold from that same facility are now being looked at more closely to see if there's any link to this case. In the meantime, police say the shocked family that bought the suitcases has asked for privacy to process what happened, and that "we are ensuring there is support in place for them," per the release. "No matter how long or how many years you serve and investigate horrific cases like this, it is never any easier to do," Vaaelua said at the news conference, per the Guardian. (Read more New Zealand stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.