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3 suitcases with human remains went into water last week, police say

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Investigators believe three suitcases found last week in South Florida with human remains inside went into the water days or hours before they were found.

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Authorities in Delray Beach launched an investigation after a construction worker called 911 on Friday afternoon to report seeing something strange in the Intracoastal Waterway near the 1000 block of Palm Trail. Police Chief Russ Mager said they saw “a suitcase with what was believed to be human remains hanging outside the suitcase.”

Officers responded and confirmed that the suitcase contained human remains. Within a few hours, authorities got more calls that led them to another two suitcases with human remains inside.

“All three suitcases were deemed to be the same person, the same victim as the original suitcase that was found,” Mager said at a news conference on Monday. He said an autopsy was being done to glean more information about the circumstances of the death.

The victim remained unidentified Monday. Officials said the body appeared to be a woman between the ages of 35 and 55 who is Caucasian or Latin American and about 5-foot-4. The woman had light brown hair and might have had tattooed eyebrows. She was wearing a floral tank top from a Brazilian brand with a black camisole shirt underneath and black shorts, Sgt. Casey Kelly said.

“Based on the victim’s condition, we believe the timeframe in which she was put into the water to be between Monday, July 17, and the early morning hours of Thursday, July 20,” he said Monday, adding that authorities have yet to determine when she died.

The body was “in the early stages of decomposition,” he said.

Officials have been reviewing missing person reports, though Kelly said no matches were immediately found. No evidence has thus far linked the woman’s death to drugs, possible human trafficking or domestic violence, he said.

It remained unclear Monday where the suitcases containing the woman’s body went into the water. Kelly said investigators had not yet ruled out the possibility that it might have happened in another county.

Authorities asked that people check their surveillance cameras for any suspicious incidents between Monday and Thursday of last week.

“We ask that you specifically look for unusual vehicles or people and certainly anyone carrying or moving luggage,” he said. Later, he added that the investigation “is very early in its stages.”

Police believe the incident was isolated. Officials continue to investigate.

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