Dangerous search for girl’s body continues as father remanded

Authorities will on Thursday start draining the water in the shaft at a mine in Mitsero where the body of a woman, 39, was found dumped, as they continue their search for the woman’s missing six-year-old daughter. Speaking at the mine, fire department chief, Markos Trangolas, told state broadcaster CyBC on Wednesday that the operation to drain the shaft, which may take two or more days, is an extremely dangerous task as the structure may cave in.

Trangolas said that the goal is to completely drain the shaft, and that as the water levels are lowered, underwater cameras will be pushed deeper underground to help them establish whether the little girl suffered the same fate as her mother. The woman’s former partner and father of the girl, a 33-year-old Romanian national, was remanded for eight days on Wednesday, after the woman’s decomposed body was found naked, arms and legs bound, and wrapped in a sheet in the mine on Sunday.

The authorities are waiting for the results of DNA tests to confirm her identity beyond any doubt, but it is almost certain she is Mary Rose Tiburcio from the Philippines.

Tiburcio had been reported missing by her roommate on May 5, 2018, along with her daughter, Sierra Graze Seucalliuc. The passport of her missing six-year-old daughter has been found at the home of her father. Police said they have also found rope at the suspect’s home, which was similar to the one used to tie up the woman.

The roommate had told police that the day prior to her disappearance, Tiburcio had travelled to Nicosia from Larnaca, apparently to meet a man she had met on social media. She and her daughter never returned. On the day of her disappearance, Tiburcio did not take any of her personal effects with her, nor her passport.

Her body was found on Sunday by two foreign nationals who were recording footage from the area.

Three more individuals were present at the scene at the time, police said.

“Two of them went down the shaft and saw the body up close, which was bound with the blue rope, confirming it was human,” lead investigator Ioannis Yiorkadjis told the court. The woman was still wearing two heart-shaped earrings, photos of which were shown to her roommate who recognised them as belonging to the victim.

State pathologists also found that Tiburcio had two false teeth, a fact raised by her roommate in her statement to police. The court heard that Tiburcio and the suspect had been living together in the past but he used to drink and be abusive. Tiburcio took their daughter and left the man in 2015, cutting off all relations with him. The last time he saw his daughter was in March 2017 when his mother visited from Romania.

Police said they found the girl’s passport at his house and blue rope that was similar to the one used to tie the woman’s body. Investigators also seized three mobile phones and three phone cards, which will undergo forensic examination. They also ask the court for permission to access the suspect’s phone records.

The man denies harming his child and former partner though he admitted hitting her in the past, police told the court. Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said Wednesday that officers from other districts were called in to help with the investigation.

Fire fighters used special cameras to examine the water-filled shaft, spanning some 130 metres. The authorities were also assessing safety issues as they contemplated sending people down the shaft. Meanwhile the Filipino community in Nicosia were organising a vigil on Sunday in Tiburcio’s memory. The ceremony will be held at the municipal park near the town centre and those taking part should wear plain black t-shirts.

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