ADELAIDE (Australia) • Skeletal remains found near a suitcase next to a highway are likely of a young girl who may have been killed up to eight years ago, Australian police said yesterday, as they struggle to solve the murder.
Detectives called for help from the public a week after the bones were discovered by a passing driver in bushland close to Wynarka, a small town about 130km south-east of Adelaide in South Australia state.
The girl's identity is not known and a man aged about 60, seen carrying a suitcase in the area some weeks ago, is being sought by police, detective Des Bray said yesterday during a press conference.
The girl had fair hair and was aged between two and four when she died, Detective Bray said, adding that "for reasons I'm not going to disclose we are confident that this child was murdered".
He said the girl could have died some years ago as the clothing she was found with, including a black tutu, a pink shoe, a Dora The Explorer purple top and red sports shorts, dated as far back as 2007.
Detectives displayed a mannequin with hair of a similar colour and length, dressed in new versions of items of clothing found with the body, at the media conference, The Adelaide Advertiser reported.
The Advertiser quoted detective Bray as saying police had received 223 calls to Crime Stoppers - a service for people to report crime anonymously - since the remains were found on July 15.
Although the police had contacted all missing persons units and homicide squads across the vast country, there was no one they had a "strong focus on". Investigators also did not know where the girl died, but believe she was "killed elsewhere and her remains put into the suitcase and shifted in relatively recent times", Mr Bray added.
Police said the black suitcase, which had faded to grey by the time it was found, was left behind a bush, and at "some stage", the remains were tipped out and the bag placed in full view of the road.
"We want people to think back into the past, back to 2007 and the years in between, think about little girls like this... and think about where those children are now," Mr Bray said.