A Korean-born New Zealander might be the mother of the two children between the ages of 5 and 10 who turned up dead in suitcases auctioned off as part of an abandoned storage unit sale, say authorities.
The woman, who has not been publicly named but who may soon be the subject of an Interpol arrest warrant, is thought to have entered South Korea in 2018, likely around the time the bodies of the two kids were stuffed into the suitcases.
New Zealand police used a variety of investigative tools, including DNA and historic video surveillance footage, to identify the woman who they say is the right age and had an address in New Zealand that points to her being the dead children’s mother.
South Korean authorities confirmed to Reuters that the woman was born in South Korea but had become a New Zealand citizen many years ago. They say that they have a record of her entering the South Korea, where she maintains citizenship, in 2018, but no record of her leaving.
Her whereabouts, if known, have not been made public. “If the woman is clearly identified as a suspect and an arrest warrant is received, there is a high possibility of an Interpol red notice,” a spokesperson with the Foreign Affairs Bureau of the National Police Agency said in Seoul on Monday, according to Hankyoreh newspaper.
If she is arrested, she will face extradition to New Zealand.
Last week, a family in Auckland was horrified to find that the contents of a storage unit they bought on an online auction at the Papatoetoe Safe Store storage facility contained the human remains. They have not been implicated in the matter. At first, police did not know the number of bodies in the suitcases because of the state of decomposition, but have since determined that the human remains belong to two children between the ages of 5 and 10 who had likely been dead for three to four years.