Italian police are investigating all possibilities concerning the body of a woman found in a blue suitcase in Rimini harbour – including that it is the missing wife of Apple consultant Daniel Belling.
The naked body was found on 25 March curled up in a black bin bag inside the blue suitcase, displaying no visible sign of violence. According to preliminary reports, it is the body of a woman of Asian origins, around 40 years of age, very thin and 170cm (5ft 6in) tall.
An autopsy is due to be carried out on 27 March to clarify the identity of the woman, whose body was in an advanced state of decomposition after having been at sea for at least 10 days.
Among the hypothesis for the investigators to probe, is that the woman is Chinese-born 36-year-old Xing Lei Li (who went by the Western name Angie), who disappeared from the MSC Magnifica cruise ship in February. Hre husband Apple consultant Daniel Belling, 45, is under arrest suspected of her murder.
"We are in touch with our colleagues in Rome to verify this hypothesis" Rimini chief prosecutor Paolo Giovagnoli told the Italian newspaper Secolo XIX. "We will know more in the coming hours", he added.
Investigators in Rome believe Belling hid his wife's body by throwing it overboard in a suitcase, but there are many differences between the cases. Angie Li is 152 cm (5ft) tall, and the suitcases do not appear to match. The location of the discovery is about 1,200km (745 miles) away from the cruise's itinerary, which followed the Western Mediterranean coast from Rome, to Genoa and then Greece, although the suitcase could have travelled far, carried by the currents.
The woman was last seen on 10 February after the ship sailed back from Genoa, but was only reported missing after she failed to appear on the passengers' list on 20 February, when the cruise arrived back in Rome. Belling was arrested in front of his children as they were boarding a flight from Rome to Dublin, Ireland, where the family lived. He claims his wife left him voluntarily.
Angie's mother, who has arrived in Italy to care for her grandchildren, told an Italian TV show she has no news of her daughter. In fact, she had only found out about her disappearance through a person who spoke English who read the news online.
Most of the woman's belongings were found by the authorities, including her mobile phone, credit card and Irish residence permit, as well as her red coat, shoes and gowns. The one thing missing was Angie Li herself, and a large, blue and orange suitcase.