Manurewa homicide: Woman arrested hiding out in Korean apartment high-rise owned by metals company

Warning: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing.

The woman arrested over the alleged murders of two primary school-aged children found in suitcases in Auckland was hiding in an apartment building owned by a metal company. 

The remains were found in suitcases bought at an auction for an unclaimed locker, with Det Insp Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua confirming in August the bodies were those of children, a boy and a girl aged seven and 10 and believed to have been there for three to four years before they were found. 

Police announced last month a 42-year-old woman was arrested in South Korea on September 15, shortly before 1am Korean time (4am NZ time).

New details have emerged about the woman arrested, with the apartment building where she was found owned by Korean metals and energy company Korea Zinc, according to a New Zealand Herald report on Sunday. 

The woman allegedly lived in an apartment on the top floor of the high-rise building, which was one of a grouping of five identical buildings. The company logo Korea Zinc can be seen printed on the side of one high-rise the NZ Herald reports. 

It's not clear if the 42-year-old was arrested directly at her apartment, or out the front of the buildings, but it's believed neighbours within the Korea Zinc apartment complex saw the woman being escorted by plainclothes policemen on September 15, according to NZ Herald. 

According to local news station YTN, she was arrested in the city of Ulsan at about 1am (local time). South Korean website said she was "hiding in an apartment". 

It has previously been reported the suitcases containing the children were moved in the second half of 2021 between different storage units at the same SafeStore Papatoetoe facility, according to a Stuff report.

The report added a person with knowledge of the move said there were dead flies and rats in the unit, but there was no smell or clues to raise the alarm. 

A woman was arrested in South Korea and now faces extradition to New Zealand.
A woman was arrested in South Korea and now faces extradition to New Zealand. Photo credit: Supplied

The woman was accused of committing "crimes against humanity", Edaily reported citing local police. The arrest was made after a "persistent pursuit" of her, the South Korean outlet said.

As the woman was led out of the apartment building, she denied the charges shouting "I didn't do it", to the waiting Korean media. 

Vaaelua said an application has been made to have her extradited back to New Zealand to face two charges of murder.

"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," Vaaelua said.

'Unspeakably shocking' 

In August, the human remains were discovered at an address on Moncrieff Ave in the south Auckland suburb of Manurewa.

Newshub later revealed the remains were unknowingly taken by a family to their Manurewa home who'd bid and won an auction for abandoned goods in a SafeStore Papatoetoe storage facility. 

After initial investigations, police confirmed the remains were those of children aged between five and 10 and had been dead for some time. 

No details were provided about how the children died but police said the family who found the bodies were not connected to the deaths.

Manurewa homicide: Woman arrested hiding out in Korean apartment high-rise owned by metals company
Photo credit: Newshub

Reports later emerged a woman believed to be a family member of the two children was in South Korea.

No further comment could be made as the matter was now before the courts, he said.

"These homicides are unspeakably shocking and have brought a great sense of concern as to circumstances surrounding the entire case," said Daniel Newman, a councillor for Auckland's Manurewa-Papakura Ward.

"The discovery of the bodies in the suitcases at Moncrieff Ave brought an unhelpful sense of intrigue as well as an expectation that the subsequent investigation would lead to arrests.

"I am hopeful that the deceased children's stories will be told, that those responsible are held to account and that the wider community receives the necessary closure in this case," Newman said.