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A South Korean woman has been arrested more than a month after the bodies of two young children were found in suitcases in New Zealand.
The occupants of a suburban South Auckland home in New Zealand were horrified when, on Aug. 11, they found the remains of two school-aged children in multiple suitcases. The homeowners — who did have a role in the children’s deaths — had obtained the luggage during the auction of a storage unit in the suburb of Papatoetoe.
Authorities with the Counties Manukau Police Station in New Zealand identified the children in late August but did not release their names. The victims were believed to have been between 5 and 10 years old and had died several years before being discovered.
The causes of their deaths have not been released.
Unofficial reports began circulating that investigators had narrowed in on an unnamed woman, possibly the children’s mother, who allegedly moved from New Zealand to South Korea in 2018. Counties Manukau Police Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua previously confirmed with reporters from the New Zealand Herald that they were working with Interpol as part of their investigation.
On Thursday, New Zealand officials announced that a 42-year-old woman had been arrested in South Korea in connection with the case. The woman’s name was not released.
“South Korean authorities arrested the woman today on a Korean arrest warrant pursuant to two charges of murder relating to the two young victims,” said police.
They did not confirm whether or not the woman was the children’s mother.
However, a South Korean official told CNN the suspect was the children’s mother. She was arrested in the early morning hours on Thursday in Ulsan, a large metropolitan city in the southeast part of the country. Separate reports say the children’s father died of cancer in 2017, before they disappeared.
South Korea authorities also told CNN that the woman had been born in South Korea but had acquired New Zealand citizenship a “long time ago.”
New Zealand officials requested an arrest warrant in accordance with an extradition treaty between New Zealand and South Korea, police said. The Korean Courts issued the order for her arrest, and the woman remains in custody in South Korea until the extradition process can be completed.
“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,” police stated Thursday.
Police thanked overseas agencies for their “ongoing assistance and support” in the investigation, including the South Korean Ministry of Justice, the South Korean Prosecution Service and the Korean National Police Agency.
“In the meantime, there is a number of enquiries to be completed both in New Zealand and overseas,” Detective Inspector Vaaelua stated. “Police would also like to acknowledge the overwhelming support from the public since the commencement of a very challenging investigation.”
Police say the case is now a matter before the courts.
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