A 35 year old army officer is a suspect in the murder of seven people — five women and two children, CyBC reported on Thursday citing police sources.
This follows the discovery of the body late on Thursday afternoon of a woman in a well near the Orounta firing range and the reported confession by the 35 year old — who called himself Orestis on social media — to four more murders — of three women and an eight year old girl.
Fire services have recovered the body of a woman — believed to be from Nepal or India — from the well. They were led to the well by the suspect who admitted to killing her in the summer of 2018. The body is badly decomposed and no statements were made at the scene by state pathologists.
The suspect has told police that the other victims are buried near but not inside the Mitsero mine shaft where fire services today completed an extensive search. They said they had found no indication of any more victims.
The area near the shaft is under guard and police will tomorrow begin search for the three victims the suspect said he buried there.
Divers will also tomorrow resume a search of the lake in Xyliatou where the suspect said he dumped the Marry Rose’s daughter, Sierra, using specialist equipment.
After today’s dramatic developments the list of victims is understood to have grown to seven
- Marry Rose Tiburcio from the Philippines whose body was found in the abandoned mine shaft in Mitsero. The body has been officially identified following DNA tests.
- Her daughter Sierra, aged six, who was reported missing with her mother in May 2018. The suspect has said the child died and he dumped her body in a lake in Xyliatou. However, in a custody hearing at Nicosia court on Thursday morning, police named the child as a murder victim.
- Αrian Palanas Lozano from the Philippines. The body of a woman believed to be Arian was found in the abandoned mine shaft but identification is pending DNA tests. She was reported missing in July 2018.
- Maricar Vandez from the Philippines who the suspect has reportedly admitted to killing and whose body has still not been found. She was reported missing in December 2017.
- The unknown woman whose body was discovered today at the Orounda firing range.
- A Romanian woman the suspect admitted to killing. It is believed the victim is Livia Florentina Bunea from Romania who was reported missing in September 2016. The body has still not been found.
- Elena Natalia Bunea, 8, daughter of Livia who was reported missing with her mother and whose body has not yet been found.
Timeline of Thursday’s events
On Thursday morning, the suspect appeared before Nicosia district court where police requested a two day remand in connection with the premeditated murder of Maricar. The suspect appeared without a lawyer and did not object to the extension of his custody. He is due back in court on Saturday where police are expected to ask for a renewal of his remand.
After the remand hearing, the suspect was questioned again and according to the Cyprus News Agency admitted to the murder of Maricar and of an Asian woman he said he had dumped in the Orounta well but whose particulars he did not give. He also admitted to killing a Romanian woman and her young daughter, the news agency said.
He also reportedly told police investigators where the bodies were.
Meanwhile, fire services completed a painstaking search of the flooded 130 metre deep mine shaft in Mitsero but without result. Initial suspicions after an object was picked up by robotic cameras turned out to be canvas that was used when the mine was in operation.
Police have come under fire for their handling of the case of missing women, with critics saying that had they acted quickly in investigating a missing persons report, lives could have been saved.
Akel has gone further, accusing the Justice Minister and chief of police of criminal negligence and demanding they resign. An administrative inquiry is underway, but the police association counters that officers acted in line with the law and their hands are tied by legislation restricting access to telecommunications.
Meanwhile, a demonstration is being organised outside the Presidential Palace at 6 pm on Friday as a spontaneous protest over how cases of missing women are handled in Cyprus.