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Human remains found in suitcases bought at New Zealand auction

Two vintage suitcases are shown in this photo illustration. Getty Images

New Zealand police are investigating after human remains were found in suitcases purchased by an unsuspecting family from a storage facility auction.

According to Newshub, police could be dealing with multiple sets of remains, which were found zipped up in suitcases inside a storage container.

The incident, first reported by BBC, began when the family purchased a trailer-load full of goods from a local storage facility in South Auckland on Aug. 11.

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Local news outlets report that the suitcases were sold in an attempt to clear out an abandoned locker.

Det. Insp. Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua told media the discovery was made after the family brought the goods back to their home and deposited the items on their front lawn.

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Neighbours told New Zealand news outlet Stuff that almost immediately they began to smell a strong “rotten” odour and police were alerted.

“I could smell it here. I thought it was a dead cat or something. That day Thursday (before the police came),” an unnamed neighbour told the New Zealand Herald, adding that as a pig hunter he is very familiar with the smell of animal decay.

“They brought it back on a trailer. How did they not pick up the smell?” he asked.

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Police have not yet confirmed how many bodies were found in the “unowned property,” but said they are investigating and that the people who bought the auction items are “not believed to be involved in the incident.”

A former police investigator told The Herald that New Zealand’s small size and population means a greater chance of finding whoever was responsible for putting the remains in the suitcase and other potential crimes behind the discovery.

“It’s a small country. We have very few unsolved homicides, we have a handful of them, you can count them. So I’m quite hopeful,” said Lance Burdett.

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However, he also said there’s also a good chance that the responsible party could be far away – possibly living elsewhere in the country, or even overseas.

“But again, you leave a trail … somebody will brag,” Burdett added.

On Monday, police put out a new statement, obtained by CBS News, saying the department appreciates “there is a large public interest,” but that “there are still a number of enquiries to be carried out before Police can comment further.”

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Meanwhile, a family member staying at the property where the discovery was made told The Herald that the family had left town for a while following last Thursday’s find. He told the outlet that they were “doing alright” but were attempting to avoid public scrutiny and attention.

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