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Young child found in suitcase died a "violent" death

The skeletal remains of the child were found in this suitcase in southern Australia
The skeletal remains of the child were found in this suitcase in southern Australia

Police have said the skeletal remains of a young child found in a suitcase indicated he or she died a "violent" death.

The remains of the young child, believed to between three and five years' of age, found dumped in bushland in southern Australia have yet to be identified.

Police said the suitcase containing the remains of the child were discovered last Tuesday at the side of a highway. 

Superintendent Des Bray told reporters the dead child, whose sex has not been determined, was likely killed elsewhere.

He said the body was stuffed in a suitcase and left alongside the Karoonda Highway, 130 kilometres (81 miles) east of Adelaide, some four to six weeks ago.

An elderly man was reported to have been seen in the area with a similar suitcase and police are working on establishing the identity of the man.

Police said the child appeared to have died a violent death. 

"It is terribly clear that the child died a violent death under terrible circumstances... everything about this case is tragic," Superintendent Des Bray said.

By the time it was found by a passing motorist on Tuesday, the remains were about two metres away from the bag.

"The child was originally in the suitcase and at some point, somebody has, we believe removed the child from the suitcase," he said.

"It's hard to say what happened, and why, but we know for certain that somebody has come, found the suitcase, opened it to have a look what was in there, tipped out the contents and at that stage become aware that it was most likely human remains."

Police said it appeared that someone had pulled the suitcase from where it had originally been dumped and placed it in full view of the road.

"It was right in the open and easily able to be seen," Bray said.

A number of items of clothing were discovered in the suitcase along with the remains. 

These included a purple Dora the Explorer T-shirt, blue pyjama shorts, a pair of pink tracksuit bottoms and a tutu dress in small sizes.

Police are unsure of the motive of the killing and appealing for witnesses who may have seen the suspect in the area to come forward. 

The man is described as being "aged about 60, of Caucasian appearance, average height, lightly built, clean cut and neatly dressed", Bray said. 

"He was not a local," he added. 

The child's remains do not fit in with any known missing person's appeals, police said. 

"Forensic Science staff are working very hard to deliver a result as quickly as possible.

"We are hoping to be able to confirm the gender of the child this week.

"A DNA profile is also being taken of the child, however, that will take longer."