Crime

Police Find Starved Woman's Body In Suitcase

| by Michael Doherty

Police are investigating after finding a body inside of a suitcase floating off of a harbor in Rimini, Italy.

Police initially thought that the body belonged to a woman that had disappeared several weeks earlier in February. They threw out that conclusion when the body inside the trunk was revealed to have been 6 or 7 inches taller than that woman, Li Yinglei, who disappeared on a cruise with her family, according to Newser.

Yinglei had also reportedly been missing for six weeks, while the suitcase had only been floating in the water for around 10 days, police said. The blue suitcase also reportedly did not match Yinglei's, which was orange and black, the Irish Independent reports.

A DNA test reportedly confirmed that the body was not Yinglei's, according to the Daily Beast.

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The suitcase, which sailors had pulled ashore, contained the remains of an Asian woman who had reportedly starved to death. Investigators suspect that she may have been alive and severely malnourished when she was put in the suitcase. Italian news agency Ansa quoted police as saying the woman "looked as if she’d come out of a concentration camp."

According to the coroner, it is impossible to tell from where the suitcase was thrown into the sea.

Authorities now reportedly suspect that the body may belong to an undocumented Chinese immigrant. According to former workers, many undocumented immigrants in Italy work in factories in difficult conditions, and bodies of workers that die are reported to frequently disappear.

In 2013, a torso of a Chinese woman was found in the Venice lagoon without a head and missing one of her legs. The woman, suspected to be a victim of human trafficking, was around 25 years old.

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Yinglei remains missing, and her husband, German citizen Daniel Belling, was arrested after he failed to alert authorities about her disappearance. Belling was caught trying to board a flight out of Italy with the couple's two children, and is still being held in jail.

Belling reportedly told police that Yinglei had disappeared on previous family vacations, and that he had thought she may have been hiding somewhere on the ship. He said that she had been unhappy and was "ready to quit the cruise."

Belling said he had last seen his wife when the cruise stopped at a Greek port, and he took the children out into the town while Yinglei waited on the ship.

According to crew members on the ship, Yinglei seemed shaken after an incident in the ship's gift shop, when Belling stormed in demanding that Yinglei change from the sandals she was wearing into a pair of sneakers.

Belling has not been officially charged with Yinglei's murder, but under Italian law, he can be held for up to a year on suspicion alone.

Sources: Newser, Irish Independent, Daily Beast / Photo Credit: Christine Und Hagen Graf/Flickr

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