Red Lake

Cyprus court sentences serial killer to 7 life terms

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A Cyprus criminal court on Monday sentenced an army captain to seven life terms in prison after he pleaded guilty to the premeditated murder and kidnapping of seven foreign women and girls.

In handing down the sentence, the three-judge panel said that Nicholas Metaxas appeared to have mounted a “campaign of murder” in choosing defenseless women, most of whom came to Cyprus looking for work.

The judges said Metaxas “didn’t even hesitate to kill children” over a 2½-year period during which prosecutors said he sought out many of his adult victims on online social networks using the handle “Orestes35″ and had sex with them. Five life terms will run consecutively, while two will run concurrently. The judges said there could be no mitigating circumstances in such a case.

Earlier, Metaxas pleaded guilty and tearfully apologised to the families of his victims for the “unjust pain” he has caused them. Reading from a prepared statement, Metaxas said he doesn’t “have any clear answers” why he committed the killings and that he has “struggled” to figure out the “why and how.”

The 35-year-old officer said his cooperation with police investigators was the least he could do to ease the pain he caused to the families of the victims and his own family. Metaxas killed four Filipino women and the daughter of one of them, as well as a Nepalese woman and a Romanian mother and her daughter.

He asked authorities for a scientific panel to interview him in order to delve into his psyche and find the reasons for his actions in what’s believed to be the east Mediterranean island nation’s first serial killer case. He did speak of unspecified events in his past “decades ago” that he tried to forget.

He looked down throughout his court appearance as a state prosecutor said six of the victims died of strangulation and the seventh of a massive head injury. The case came to light on April 14 when the decomposing body of Mary Rose Tiburcio, 38, from the Philippines, was found by chance down a flooded mineshaft that was part of an abandoned copper mine.

Four days later, the body of 28-year-old Arian Palanas Lozano, also from the Philippines, was pulled out of the same mineshaft. Investigators homed in on Metaxas after scrutinizing the online communications of both women. Metaxas, a divorced father of two children aged 6 and 9, initially refused to cooperate with investigators. But as the evidence increased, he buckled and confessed in a 10-page handwritten note to the seven killings.

His victims included Romanian Livia Florentina Bunea, 36, and her 8-year-old daughter Elena Natalia; Maricar Valtez Arquiola, 31, from the Philippines; Ashita Khadka Bista, from Nepal; and Tiburcio’s daughter, Sierra Grace.

Metaxas led police to where he disposed of his victims’ bodies; the bound remains of Bunea, her daughter and Arquiola were placed in suitcases and thrown into a toxic lake that was part of the same abandoned mine. Bista’s skeletal remains were found down a dry well inside an army firing range. Tiburcio’s daughter was found in another lake, wrapped in a sheet and weighed down by a rock.

Metaxas had told investigators under questioning that what prompted him to strangle Tiburcio and Bunea was his “hatred” of them and desire for “vengeance” over his suspicions that they prostituted their daughters. He said he choked the children to death as they slept “so that they would no longer have to suffer.”

Prosecutors said investigations found that both mothers were very loving and cared for their children.

Metaxas also told investigators that he strangled Maricar and Lozano as he climaxed during sex with them. He said he killed Bista, who died of a head injury, in anger after she spat at him for videoing their sexual encounter.

All Metaxas’ victims except Bista had been reported missing to police shortly after their disappearanceThe disappearance of Bunea and her daughter in October 2016 was the subject of an investigative report by a local TV reporter, who said police claimed they had good reason to believe that the mother and daughter had crossed into the breakaway north of the ethnically split island.

Police failures to probe those missing persons cases resulted in the resignation of the justice minister and the firing of the police chief. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said lives could have been spared had police acted swiftly in investigating those initial reports.

COMMENT

I have grave concerns about this conviction, as this is the first time they have dealt with a case so serious and a psychopath, so evil here in Cyprus. Has this man lead them down his chosen path? His first solicitor resigned, in the interim period, he confessed, they found whatever evidence they had found. He continued to refuse a solicitor, but hard as it may seem to believe, confessions and DNA do not always result in a ‘safe conviction’

THIS MONSTER KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT HE IS DOING

He was in court on Monday morning 24th June 2019 and was found guilty and sentenced all in one day. Anyone familiar with the workings of the ECHR will have grave concerns, because it would be a tragedy if there are grounds for an appeal at a later date.

I have always maintained that for crimes this serious, he should have been assigned the best representation, not so he can be free to walk, but ensure that his conviction is so safe, that he WILL NOT!

My deepest sympathies to the families of the victims. There is no possibility of comprehending the mind of a monster.

Remains of Cyprus serial killer’s 7th victim found in lake

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A two-month search for the victims of a confessed serial killer in Cyprus came to a close Wednesday when divers discovered the decomposing body of his youngest victim in a lake.

The discovery of the remains of the girl, believed to be 6-year-old Sierra Grace, brings to an end the search that began when an army captain confessed to killing seven foreign women and girls on April 25.

Fire Department Chief Marcos Trangolas told The Associated Press that the remains, which were wrapped in a bed sheet and tied by rope to a cement block, were found among reeds six meters (20 feet) down the lake that was part of a former copper pyrite mine.

He said divers had searched the exact spot where the 35-year-old suspect pointed to investigators earlier Wednesday while on site. Police have said they’ve found no evidence to suggest the suspect has killed anyone else, but investigators are still trying to track down anyone who had been in contact with him online.

The army officer, who police haven’t formally identified yet, had been in contact with several of his victims through online chat rooms. He is widely acknowledged to be Cyprus’ first serial killer. The chance discovery of the body of Sierra Grace’s mother, Mary Rose Tiburcio, 38, down a flooded mineshaft on April 14 triggered an investigation that led to the suspect through his online communications with the Filipino woman with whom he had had a six-month relationship.

The body of Arian Palanas Lozano, 28, also from the Philippines, was found down the same shaft six days later.

The killings took place over 2-½ years starting in September 2016 with the disappearance of 36-year-old Romanian Livia Florentina Bunea, and her 8-year-old daughter Elena Natalia. Their bodies were found inside suitcases at the bottom of a toxic lake that was part of another copper pyrite mine.

Another body, believed to belong to Ahita Khadka Bista from Nepal, was found down a dry well in a military firing range. The suspect is due to appear in court Friday, but it’s unclear whether investigators will ask for another custody extension or formally charge him.

Bunea and her daughter will be buried Thursday in a village outside the capital Nicosia. The Cyprus government has said it will cover the funeral and burial expenses of all the victims.

Cyprus: detention for confessed serial killer extended

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A Cypriot army captain who confessed to killing seven foreign women and girls will remain in custody after a court on Monday approved a police request to extend his detention for another eight days.

Investigators need more time to collect testimony and other evidence as authorities continue to search for the bodies of two of the victims, police investigator YIannis Georgadjis told the court.

The 35 year-old suspect, believed to be Cyprus’ first known serial killer, faces charges including premeditated murder and kidnapping in the slayings of three Filipino women and the daughter of one of them, a Romanian mother and daughter and a woman believed to be from Nepal.

The killings appear to have taken place over a period of 2 ½ years starting in September 2016 with the disappearance of 36-year-old Romanian Livia Florentina Bunea, and her 8-year-old daughter Elena Natalia.

Police are accused of failing to properly investigate initial missing persons’ reports that may have prevented the suspect from claiming more victims. Revelations of what the Cypriot president called “negligence” on the part of some police officers led to the justice minister’s resignation while the police chief was fired.

The suspect, who authorities haven’t formally identified, faces an additional charge of raping a woman he contacted through a social media platform. The woman, who was 19 in early 2017 when the alleged rape took place, told police the suspect had sex with her against her will in his car when he picked her up supposedly to give her modelling photographs he took of her.

The suspect is denying the rape allegation. Wearing a bulletproof vest, he represented himself in court on Monday and said he didn’t object to his detention.

The chance discovery of the bound body of Mary Rose Tiburcio, 38, from the Philippines, down an abandoned mineshaft triggered an investigation last month that led to the suspect’s arrest.

The suspect confessed to seven killings in a 10-page handwritten note and took investigators to where he dumped some of his victims.

They include a poisonous lake that is part of a disused copper mine where he said he disposed of the bodies of Bunea, her daughter and another Filipino woman after placing them in suitcases. Divers have so far retrieved two suitcases from the lake and are continuing to search for a third.

A separate search is being carried out at another lake where the suspect said he dumped the body of Tiburcio’s 6-year-old daughter Sierra Grace.

Investigators said the suspect, who is divorced and has two children, had a six-month relationship with Tiburcio before she and her daughter vanished in May 2018.

A few words about the serial killer in Cyprus

In April 2019, two German tourists entered an abandoned mine at Mitsero, where they stumbled upon a body. This was the start of an investigation that exposed the first serial killer in Cyprus. Shortly after a 35 year old Army officer, called Nikos Metaxas was arrested and the true horror was revealed.

Missed chances to stop serial killer scrutinised in Cyprus

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — It’s more than the grizzly body count that’s numbed people on the small east Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus.

The country may have experienced mass killings decades ago during inter-ethnic conflict, but the self-confessed crimes of a military officer are something new for the island of around 1 million people.

The army captain told authorities over several days last month that he killed five foreign women and two of their daughters. Police have found bodies in a flooded mineshaft, the abandoned mine’s toxic lake and a pit at a military firing range.

The officer is widely acknowledged to be Cyprus’ first serial killer. Authorities haven’t named him publicly.

Questions about police ineptitude or indifference possibly allowing the suspect to keep killing for about 2 ½ years after the first victim was reported missing have been part of the painful fallout.

At a second vigil for the seven slaying victims outside the presidential palace in Nicosia on Friday, participants also expressed concerns that racism and economic inequality were other factors; many women from the Philippines work as housekeepers in Cyprus, and four of the victims were Filipino.

“I mean, if it would be a Cypriot woman missing for so long, they would definitely do something,” Katarzyna Kyrlitsias, who is from Poland and married to a Cypriot citizen, said. “But because we’re foreigners, they think nobody would find them, nobody would look for them.”

Residents, immigrant rights activists and government officials say they want to know if and exactly how police failures contributed to killings instead of preventing them.

Yiota Papadopoulou, whose husband is a prominent Cypriot politician, said she asked in October 2016 for help learning the whereabouts of a Romanian woman and her child after the pair vanished.

A police officer told her authorities had good reason to believe 36-year-old Livia Florentina Bunea took her 8-year-old daughter to the ethnically divided nation’s breakaway Turkish Cypriot north, Papadopoulou said.

“I believe that maybe, some other women could have been saved,” she told public broadcaster RIK.

It was only the chance discovery of 38-year-old Mary Rose Tiburcio’s bound body down the mineshaft on April 14 that sparked a full investigation. Authorities detained the suspect soon after tracking the dead woman’s online message exchanges with the army captain.

The head of the Cyprus Domestic Workers’ Association, Louis Koutroukides, has recounted that when he reported Tiburcio missing last year, a police officer said he was “too old to concern himself with Filipino women.”

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has promised the government would scrupulously investigate both the “abhorrent murders” and the “actions or failures” of police in following up on missing person cases.

Anastasiades fired Police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou on Friday for what he said was “possible negligence” in carrying out swift and thorough investigations that could have saved lives.

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, who resigned Thursday, also spoke of “possible mistakes” by law enforcement. He also alluded to darker “attitudes and perceptions” pervading society “that honor no one.”

Cyprus has a Filipino community of about 14,000 that experiences discrimination and exploitation, according to civil rights advocate Lissa Jataas. Four of the people the suspect said he killed, including Tiburcio and her 6-year-old daughter, were Filipino.

A noticeable number of Filipino immigrants earn 400 euros ($450) per month working long hours as housekeepers for employers who hold their passports and work permits.

“We’re very vulnerable to abuse and harassment at work because our workplace is our home as well,” Jataas said, adding that many workers keep complaints to themselves for fear of being deported.

Ester Beatty, chair of the Federation of Filipino Organizations in Cyprus, said she hopes the killings “serve as a wake-up call to those nasty employers” to adhere to European employment standards.

It’s a view shared by others at Friday’s protest vigil. Guarab Nepal said he feels as if people from Asian countries are ignored in Cyprus

“The government should respect the people who came here to work,” he said.

Even the police’s most ardent supporters concede that the investigation of the initial missing persons’ reports were insufficient. Police Support Association head Neophytos Papamiltiadous acknowledged a lack of proper oversight by those officers’ immediate superiors.

However, Papamiltiadous rejected the notion that racism was a major factor, noting that foreign workers do cross into the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north without notifying authorities.

Divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece, Cyprus’ northern third is an unrecognized entity and Cypriot police have no jurisdiction there. The legal vacuum affords those who want to disappear a way out.

But Papamiltiadous said that’s certainly no excuse for lackadaisical police work.

With no real voice, it is easy for some police officers to ignore foreign worker complaints or missing person reports if they’re under no pressure to do so, said Stefanos Spaneas, a professor of social work at the University of Nicosia.

Spaneas said in his experience with working with migrants and refugees it’s less a matter of police racism than one of “stupidity” within a disorganized force made up of officers earning low pay.

Kyrlitsias, the Polish woman with a Cypriot spouse who attended the vigil outside the palace, said the killings have changed how she feels in Cyprus regardless of what comes out of the serial killer investigation.

“Cyprus is a nice country and actually is very safe,” she said. “But what happened now, it’s very difficult to feel safe because you never know who will text you.”

The Cyprus Red Lake

Kokkinolimni (Red lake) or Kokkinopezoula (acid lake) near Mitsero old mine

If you’ve ever heard anyone talk about the magnificent ‘red lake’ of Cyprus, they are by no means exaggerating. South west of the capital and about a 28 km drive out towards the village of Mitsero, you’ll come across the old copper mine of Mitsero, which operated between 1953 and 1966. And once you get to the area, you’ll be taken aback by the ‘acid lake’, seeping up minerals and ore which turn it red. Do not touch the water under any circumstances! But do take as many pictures as you can- it’s a rare site if ever there was one.

During the 1950’s pyrite deposits were found in the area of Kokkinopezoulain . In a period of economic decadence and unemployment a new breath in the area of work was given to the village. The population of Mitsero as well as the surrounding villages stopped seeking work in the town or abroad, while other villagers had moved to Mitsero for work. Even though the working conditions in the mines were exhausting and dangerous, it was a solution for a lot of people who were seeking for work in order to feed their families.

TheKokkinopezoula Mine stopped operating in 1967. The explosions which were created in order to find the minerals, left many injured while many also lost their lives. At the same time the area had filled with toxic dust that was dangerous for people as well as the environment. Many miners were not able to breathe, walk and many eventually died. The destruction was also dramatic for the environment. The acid and the contamination in the lake and the soil resulted in the fact that the birds and he surrounding trees were not able to survive.

The scene around the area of the mine may show remains of devastation, however during the last few years nature has begun to heal its wounds and shows signs of life. Trees have begun to grow around the lake creating greenery. Let’s hope that with time the fauna and flora in the area will be restored completely giving the abandoned and destroyed area a new scenic beauty

On April the 14th 2019, two tourists were in the Mitsero mine taking photos, when they discovered a body, Evidence emerges the dead woman is Mary Rose Tiburcio, 39, from the Philippines reported missing by her roommate on May 5, 2018, along with her daughter. Search for  Tiburcio’s daughter Sierra, 6, begins.

This was the start of a gruesome discovery, that exposed the first serial killer in Cyprus.