Cyprus authorities regroup in Mitseros search

Cyprus authorities regroup in Mitseros search

Authorities are entering second phase in the Mitseros murders, as they begin to scrutinize the past of a suspected serial killer and inspect the bottom of a lake inch-by-inch in search of a missing little girl.

Police investigators received DNA confirmation that matched a slain Filipina’s body, 38-year-old Marry Rose Tiburcio whose corpse was retrieved on April 14 at an old abandoned mine in Mitseros, Nicosia district. The body was naked, bound, wrapped in a white sheet, thrown last year inside a flooded mine shaft, where another Asian female body was also retrieved on April 20.

DNA samples have been sent to the lab after a post mortem failed to point to the identity of the second victim, believed to be 28-year-old Filipina Αrian Palanas Lozano, also from the Philippines, who was last seen on 21 July 2018.

Marry Rose’s confessed killer, a 35-year-old Greek Cypriot army captain and skilled photographer, told investigators that he also disposed of the victim’s young daughter, 6-year-old Sierra Graze Seucalliuc, by throwing her body in a lake at Xiliatos reservoir, some eight miles west of Mitseros. Mother and daughter were reported missing on 5 May 2018.

Divers using camera assistance failed to locate anything last week, while reports said police were questioning the validity of the suspect’s information and whether he could be trying to mislead investigators.

But following further scrutiny of new evidence retrieved from the suspect’s home, a diver with a deep sea diving suit was called to the scene on Wednesday, in order to spend more time underwater and inspect the lakebed closely.

Investigators, who got their hands last week on computer data and a drone belonging to the suspect, were said to have been focusing on video footage and other visual data retrieved from his residence, in order to identify possible spots within the lake that could provide information on Sierra’s whereabouts.

At the same time, a new search effort was scheduled to begin inside the mine shaft elevator in Mitseros, where at least two more bodies were detected remotely. Earlier this week, the work of a robotic camera operator and other emergency responders was halted due to safety concerns. According to Kathimerini Cyprus, the issues were resolved Tuesday and the search was to resume Wednesday morning with the assistance of a private company. A state-of-the-art camera, which was used in Xiliatos, was said to be back in Mitseros during the second phase of the exploration.

Officials believe that one of the bodies they might find could belong to 30-year-old Filipina Maricar Valdez Arquiola, who went missing on 13 December 2017.

But police did not rule out that more bodies could be found in the area, following shocking revelations that the suspected serial killer had contacts either online or otherwise with over 30 women.

On Tuesday, the Limassol Intercultural Council called for the reopening of missing cases and a thorough investigation into foreign women thought by authorities to have left the country with their disappearance was never solved.

The number of victims was said to be “still unknown” while private forensic pathologist Marios Matsakis said “we may never know the total number of victims.”

Police have been criticized of not investigating missing cases thoroughly. It was reported that often missing women were thought by authorities to have left the country on their own. But according to Louis Koutroukides, the president of Cyprus Housemaids Association, law enforcement did not do enough to look into the disappearances of dozens of women, citing their foreign nationality as a factor.

The HMA president, who said he was told off by police when he went to inquire about Marry Rose and her little girl three months into the disappearance, also accused officers of intimidating women who want to report to police.

“They go to speak with the police and the first response is ‘show me your visa’,” Koutroukides said.

Police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou said earlier this week that law enforcement agencies would not underestimate the issues raised by the public, but highlighted that the investigative work had to move forward as top priority.

“In this stage, we ask for your understanding as our top priority at this moment is to establish all the facts and the true extent of the crimes, including solving and prosecuting them, and we will do our best to achieve that,” Chrysostomou said. [Kathimerini Cyprus]

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