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.
The Nicosia district court on Monday issued a fresh remand order against 35-year-old suspected serial killer Nikos Metaxas to allow police to continue investigations into premeditated murder, kidnapping, and rape.
The 35-year-old, who appeared before the court once again without a lawyer, was escorted by members of the counter-terrorism unit.
Requesting a fresh remand order, lead investigator Ioannis Yiorkadjis outlined the progress of the continuing investigation into multiple crimes connected with the suspect, which involve the murder of seven victims and one rape charge.
So far, police have taken 450 statements and collected 355 pieces of evidence. Some 100 additional statements remain to be collected, Yiorkadjis said. Police have also found a third car belonging to the 35-year-old, which he used in 2016. Authorities have also tracked down where the suspect found the cement blocks used to weigh down the body-containing suitcases into the red lake in Mitsero.
Yiorkadjis added that police are continuing investigations into Metaxas’ phone data, as well as into the allegation of rape of a Filipino woman in 2017, which the 35-year-old denied. In a previous hearing, Yiorkadjis had told the court that Metaxas handed police a 10-page handwritten confession, outlining six murders, five women and one child aged eight. He denied killing a second child, six, claiming she had choked on her own vomit.
Five bodies have so far been found at three locations, including a mine shaft in Mitsero, a toxic red lake near the mine, and a firing range in Orounta. On May 5, the second out of the three bodies that Metaxas told police he dumped in the red lake in suitcases was found by search crews.
The UK-based Cypriot state pathologist Andreas Marnerides, who was among the five-member team of British experts who had assisted in the investigations earlier in the month, participated in the post-mortem that was conducted on the retrieved body along with two other local state pathologists on Monday.
The body is believed to be eight-year-old Elena Natalia, daughter of Livia Florentina, 36, from Romania, whose body is believed to be that retrieved from the red lake on April 28.
Tissue was taken for histopathological examinations at the time while the post mortem will be continued at a later stage, police said.
Search crews continued scouring the red lake on Monday for a third suitcase, believed to contain 30-year-old Marricar Valdez Arguiola from the Philippines. The search for the suitcase ended unsuccessfully on Sunday, reportedly due to the limited visibility in the waters of the red lake as a result of the waist-high mud.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, should search crews fail to locate the third suitcase on Monday, the search will continue with an additional diver, as only one has entered the lake so far.
The sonar technology is also expected to return to the USA on Tuesday, as it has already provided search crews with underwater scans of both the red lake and Memi lake in the Xyliatos reservoir area, where Metaxas told police he dumped the body of six-year-old Sierra Graze Seucalliuc, which has yet to be found.
Sierra is the daughter of Mary Rose Tiburcio, 39, from the Philippines, whose body was the first of Metaxas’ victims to be found on April 14 in the Mitsero mine shaft. Mother and daughter Sierra went missing last May.
Last week, fire chief Marcos Trangolas announced that should the current search strategy fail to locate the two remaining bodies, a ground penetrating radar will be employed.
“The 35-year-old, who appeared before the court once again without a lawyer, was escorted by members of the counter-terrorism unit.”
This is worrying, whether he wants a solicitor or not, they are gathering too much without adequate legal representation. I don’t think people realise how important that is, because they may be setting themselves up for a shock.
The importance of good legal representation for the accused is to ensure that the prosecution is forced to prove their case, bare in mind that the burden of proof lays with the prosecution. In this instance, he should have been assigned the BEST legal representation possible, not to get him off, but to ensure that every step of the way, the prosecution is forced to account for their case and that every shred of evidence is gathered in accordance with the law and presented in accordance of the law, to ensure a safe conviction.
If this is not done, there could be a terrible shock down the road in the ECHR and for those who think otherwise, confessions CAN be revoked, they CAN be discredited and they CAN be thrown out. I just hope that in their hast to cover up their incompetence and negligence, that they do not end up with an unsafe conviction and rest assured, that despite the overwhelming evidence that we believe that they have, anything is possible if the case is not watertight….and they are dealing with PSYCHOPATH, I still wonder, is he confessing or misleading? I’m still not convinced.
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.
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus’ new police chief has apologized to the families of seven foreign women and girls who an army captain has confessed to killing. Kypros Michailides said at a ceremony Tuesday to mark his appointment that he offered the apology because police had failed to protect the victims.
He said those who failed will be held accountable.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades fired Michaelides’ predecessor over the “negligence” of some officers. Police have been accused of failing to properly investigate initial missing persons’ reports.
Divers are continuing with a search of a body the suspect says he dumped in a toxic lake. On Sunday, search crews found a small suitcase that authorities believe contained the remains of an eight year-old girl.
It is about time that that official took responsibility for what may well be the greatest act of negligence since the Mari explosion. These women were reported missing and nobody did a thing!
Who were they reported to? Who decided to ignore the report of the missing women? Why have it taken such a tragedy to highlight the incompetence of the Cypriot Police force?
CYPRUS was reeling on Saturday when a second decomposed body of a naked and bound adult woman was pulled from the same mine shaft in Mitsero where authorities had brought up the body of missing Mary Rose Tiburcio, 39, from the Philippines only a week ago on Sunday.
Crews who worked all day Saturday to locate the body of Tiburcio’s missing six-year-old daughter Sierra Graze Seucalliuc at a small lake near the Xyliatos reservoir some 15 minutes drive from the Mitsero crime scene, failed to find the little girl’s body but will resume searching on Sunday.
Search operations were opened on two fronts late Friday, and went into full swing on Saturday morning after the suspect in the case, a Greek Cypriot National Guard officer aged 35, allegedly broke during interrogation and confessed to the killing of the mother and daughter last year.
According to state broadcaster Cybc, the suspect, who was remanded for eight days on Friday, told police that he had strangled Tiburcio in his home, before dumping her body in the mine shaft. She and her daughter were reported missing in May 2018.
The fact that authorities were searching specific areas on Saturday – the reservoir and back at the mine – indicated early on that they might be looking for more than one victim, though they did not state this publicly. On Saturday neither did they rule out that there might be even more victims. Reports were already emerging that there may be two more bodies in the mine shaft.
The developing scenarios have already prompted speculation that Cyprus might be experiencing its first recorded incidence of serial killings, but authorities would first have to link the murders to the suspect, and find a common thread or modus operandi if there are more bodies found. One angle they are likely to look at in the case of the second victim is her social media accounts since Tiburcio met the suspect on Badoo and had arranged to meet through that medium.
Reports on Saturday said police had already located the Badoo accounts of additional women that have been reported missing, and would be assessing whether they were also in contact with the 35-year-old suspect, who is a father of two but estranged from his wife.
A post-mortem will be carried out on Sunday on the second woman’s body, which reports said was badly decomposed, indicating that it may have been thrown down the shaft before Tiburcio was. Police spokesman Andreas Angelides told reporters: “The priority now is to identify the woman. It would be premature to say anything else at this stage”.
The first step will be to identify the woman and establish if she is also on the list of missing persons. There are 32 women on the police missing persons list. Only three are Cypriots.
In addition to Mitsero and Xyliatos, police have signalled that other searches in open areas might be on the cards, reports said. Police expect to take more than 100 statements, Angelides said.
Speaking at Mitsero, just after crew had pulled up the second body, Nicosia CID chief Neophytos Shailos confirmed they had located a second victim and that it was a woman in the 125-metre mine shaft. He confirmed that the search for little Sierra would continue at Xyliatos at first light on Sunday.
Search crews had begun early on Saturday at the lake, having sent an advance team late Friday
At noon, state Cybc reported that the search in the Xyliatos area had been called off after no sign of the child was found but the search resumed two hours later with boats and divers.
At the same time in Mitsero, crews from the emergency response unit Emak, the civil defence, the police anti-terrorism unit Mmad, and firefighters were preparing to use special equipment to get further into the mine shaft after bringing a former manager on board for expert advice.
They too had to stop working before midday due to heavy rain but resumed after a couple of hours. Underwater cameras with lighting had been sent down into the shaft at the beginning of the operation.That was how the body was discovered and later retrieved.
When news emerged that two state pathologists had been called to the scene, it was clear that a body or bodies had been discovered, even without police confirmation. A heavy police presence led by Nicosia CID ensued, which confirmed the find well before police went public with the information. The fact that it was a second woman’s body that was found shocked many people, since the expectation was that they would find the body of the little girl, and not a second adult victim.
Also on Saturday, a 30-year-old man who was also being held in connection with the case was released. It is believed his photo was used unbeknownst to him by the suspect – a colleague – on the Badoo platform where the 35-year-old made contact with Tiburcio last year.
Responding to criticism from various quarters on the police’s failure to conduct thorough investigations at the time when the mother and daughter were reported missing in May last year, the justice minister Ionas Nicolaou also weighed in on Saturday, saying that actions taken by police regarding the specific case would be examined, though what was important at the moment was that the case be solved, he said. He also fended off the notion that because Tiburcio was a foreign woman, that police did not give the case the same amount of attention as they would had she been a Cypriot.
Nicolaou stressed that police do not discriminate members of the public on the basis of their ethnicity or place of origin. “Now is not the time for assigning responsibility, but for ensuring that the police fulfil their duties,” he said.
On Friday, police released Tiburcio’s Romanian ex-partner who had been arrested initially.
Tiburcio, had been reported missing on May 5, 2018, by her roommate, who told police that on the previous day she had gone to meet a man she had met on social media, taking her daughter with her. They never returned.
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Police in Cyprus recovered a second suitcase containing human remains Sunday from a contaminated lake where a military officer who confessed to killing seven foreign women and girls told authorities he dumped the bodies of three victims.
The lake is part of an abandoned copper pyrite mine where a woman’s body was found by chance last month in a flooded shaft, setting off an investigation that police say led to the island nation’s first known serial killer.
The 35-year-old army captain told investigators he killed five women and two girls, and disposed of three bodies — those of a Filipino woman and a Romanian mother and daughter — in the man-made lake. A suitcase with the remains of a woman was found at the bottom a week ago.
Several hundred people gathered at the site Sunday to light candles and lay flowers in memory of the two first victims, both of whom were from the Philippines. Some wept as tributes to the two victims were read.
A coroner will examine the remains found Sunday to try to identify the victim, police spokesman Andreas Angelides said. Divers are scouring the lake bottom with a sophisticated sonar device for another suitcase, Fire Service Chief Marcos Trangolas said.
The search for bodies and evidence started weeks ago in a case that has shocked the eastern Mediterranean island nation, brought allegations of police negligence, and cost the country’s justice minister and the police chief their jobs.
Police have been accused of failing to properly investigate when a victim was reported missing 2½ years ago, allowing the suspect to keep killing. Several of the women were reported as missing to police.
Earlier Sunday, Criminal Investigation Department Chief Neophytos Shailos told a court in Nicosia that the suspect allegedly raped a woman in early 2017 after he picked her up in his car, saying he wanted to give her the photographs he took. Shailos said the suspect recorded video on his cellphone.
The woman, a 19-year-old foreign citizen, called the suspect’s wife at the time and told her what had happened, Shailos said. He did not elaborate on what the suspect’s wife did with that information. The couple, who have two children, are now divorced.
Shailos said investigators are trying to secure additional testimony from a female friend of the alleged victim, who has since left the island. He did not state her nationality.
The court on Sunday extended the suspect’s detention for another eight days. He has not been named because he has not yet been charged in what authorities are calling the most horrifying multiple-slayings case that Cyprus has seen.
The suspect, who represented himself in court Sunday and wore a bulletproof vest, said he had no objections to the detention renewal.
Investigators have been speaking with everyone the suspect had contacted online since 2016, when the alleged first victims vanished: Livia Florentina Bunea, 36, from Romania; and her 8-year-old daughter, Elena Natalia Bunea.
Only two of the victims have so far been positively identified; 38-year-old Mary Rose Tiburcio and Arian Palanas Lozano, 28, both from the Philippines. Their bodies were discovered in an abandoned mineshaft last month six days apart.
Authorities are also looking for the body of Tiburcio’s 6-year-old daughter Sierra in another reservoir. The decomposed remains of a woman who is believed to be Ashita Khadka Bista, from Nepal, were found at the bottom of a pit in a military firing range after the suspect led investigators there.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, who on Saturday called the suspect a “serial killer,” last week apologized to diplomats of the countries of the victims and vowed to bolster protections for foreign workers in Cyprus.
Critics claim the police in Cyprus did not put much energy into the missing persons reports because the victims were low-paid foreign workers.
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.
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.
Authorities on Wednesday were searching a mine in Mitsero for traces of a six-year-old girl whose mother was found dead there, in a well on Sunday, apparently murdered. Fire service personnel used cameras to search the water-filled well where the mother was found accidentally by a photographer taking pictures of the area.
The body had been bound and wrapped in a sheet before it was dumped in the 130-metre deep well. It is understood that the heavy rainfall this winter filled the well with water, revealing the body. Though police are very careful with the information they release, media reports suggested the body belongs to a 38-year-old woman from the Philippines who was reported missing from her Larnaca home, along with her six-year-old daughter.
Police arrested her 33-year-old partner who appeared in court on Wednesday and was remanded for eight days.
Police are continuing investigations into the identity of a woman whose body was found tied up and wrapped in a sheet in an abandoned mine near Mitsero at around 3pm on Sunday. The body, which was badly decomposed, was found by a German photographer who was taking pictures in the area which he visited often.
The dead woman was retrieved from a shaft at a depth of 15 to 20 metres at 8.30pm by fire services and police.
Police are looking at all possibilities, including murder, police spokesman Andreas Angelides said on Monday. They are checking their register of missing people to see whether there is a possible match. Officers are also questioning residents near the mine. The post mortem, carried out by state pathologists Sofocles Sofocleous and Nicolas Charalambous, on Monday morning did not shed light on the cause of the woman’s death although it was reported that no stab wounds or gun injuries were found. Tissue was sent for histopathological and other tests.
The pathologists did not say how long they thought the body had been at the mine. Authorities are also trying to determine whether she was alive or dead when she was thrown into the mine shaft. According to state radio, she was 1.60 to 1.65 metres tall and probably Asian.
“From the findings at the scene, we are examining the possibility of a criminal act,” Angelides said.
He said that the first thing was to identify the woman as well as going through the registry of missing persons, adding she may not have been reported as missing. According to state broadcaster CyBC, police said there are 32 unsolved cases concerning persons reported as missing dating as far back as 1990, including Asian persons.
“We will look into everything concerning this case,” Angelides said.
Although he admitted he is not involved in the case, former state pathologist Marios Matsakis told media on Monday morning that it looked like a case of callous murder that was reminiscent of a previous case where the body of a woman was found down a well.
“There is no doubt that this is a callous murder. It will be a difficult forensic investigation because of the body’s decay,” he said.
Matsakis said it reminded him of the Oxana Lisna case 25 years ago.
“That was a double murder, the body of one woman was found in Kotsiatis [rubbish dump], while that of Lisna was found in a well. The murderers are now in prison,” he said.
Antonis Kitas, known as Al Capone, and Michalsi Iacovides were convicted in 1994 for the rape and murders of Ukrainian artiste Lisna, 20, and Swedish housewife Christina Ahfeldt, 28. Lisna’s battered body was discovered down a well near Livadia village, Larnaca, while Ahfeldt’s corpse was unearthed at Kotsiatis rubbish tip outside Nicosia. Both young women had been abducted, beaten and sexually assaulted before being murdered and dumped in the summer of 1993.
Al Capone and Iacovides are serving life sentences for the killings. Matsakis said the findings on Sunday’s discovery will depend on the way she was murdered. There is a procedure usually followed in such cases to rule out everything, he said.
“I wish for the cause of death to be determined and that the cold-blood murderers are found.”