A woman believed to be the mother of two children whose remains were found in suitcases in New Zealand last month has been arrested in South Korea, police said Thursday.
The woman is accused of murdering her two children.
The children’s remains were discovered in August after an unsuspecting family purchased a trailer loaded with items – including the suitcases – at an abandoned property auction near Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand.
New Zealand police said the bodies had likely been in storage for several years, complicating the investigation.
The 42-year-old woman believed to be a New Zealand national of South Korean descent was arrested in the southeastern city of Ulsan on Thursday, September 15, and transferred to the capital Seoul. She will then face extradition proceedings before she can be transferred to New Zealand to answer for her alleged crimes.
“Police arrested the suspect at an apartment in Ulsan on Thursday following surveillance with clues to her whereabouts and CCTV footage,” South Korea’s national police agency said in a statement.
“The suspect is accused by New Zealand police of murdering her two children – aged seven and 10 at the time – around 2018 in the Auckland area.”
“It was discovered that she arrived in South Korea after the crime and has been in hiding ever since,” he added.
Footage in local media showed the woman being led out of an Ulsan police station by investigators, covering her head with a large brown coat.
The woman, who was wearing ripped jeans and sandals, was asked by local media if she would confess to the murders.
“I didn’t,” the woman repeated repeatedly, as she was led away and put into a police vehicle.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said she started living in an acquaintance’s apartment in Ulsan this year, after staying in Seoul.
The suspect arrived at the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office Thursday afternoon and was driven to the building’s basement parking lot in a police vehicle with tinted windows and flashing red and blue lights.
Authorities have repeatedly stressed that the family who found the bodies were not linked to the homicides and were receiving support to help deal with the trauma.
Detective Inspector Tofilau Fa’amanuia Vaaelua in Auckland said on Thursday the case was “a very difficult investigation”.
“To have someone in overseas custody at such short notice is all down to the help of the Korean authorities and the coordination of our New Zealand Police Interpol staff,” said the detective.