British police join Cyprus serial killings probe
A team of British officers and forensics experts have travelled to Cyprus to assist local authorities with the investigation into a man believed be responsible for the deaths of seven women and girls – the first ever serial killings to take place on the island.
Cyprus Police spokesperson Andreas Angelides said the police chief, together with lead investigators, had briefed the British team, which includes officers from the Metropolitan Police Service, a clinical psychiatrist and a coroner, on the investigation. The team also visited a toxic lake where the suspect – 35-year-old Cyprus Army captain Nicos Metaxas – said he had dumped three of his victims after putting them inside suitcases.
The body of an adult woman inside a suitcase that was weighed down by a cement block was recovered from the lake on Sunday, but authorities have had difficulty in locating the other two suitcases using a robotic camera because of the lake’s very poor visibility.
A hi-tech sonar device will now be used to provide detailed images of what lies at the bottom of the toxic lake that was part of a disused copper pyrite mine. It will also be used at another reservoir where the suspect told investigators he dumped the body of the child of one of the victims.
Mr Angelides said evidence investigators had gathered so far did not indicate that the suspect was responsible for any more than the seven people he had already confessed to killing. He said an internal investigation was also underway following criticism that police had mishandled the initial missing persons’ reports.
Only one victim has been positively identified – 38–year-old Mary Rose Tiburcio from the Philippines. The suspect claims to have dumped the body of her six-year-old daughter, Sierra, in the reservoir. Other victims include two Filipino women, a Romanian and her eight-year-old daughter and a woman believed to be from Nepal.
A Cyprus government spokesman said that Philippine government diplomats had met with the Cypriot ministers of foreign affairs and justice, as well as police chiefs, to inquire about the investigation.
The Romanian woman and her daughter, which Cypriot media has identified as Livia Florentina Bunea, 36, and Elena Natalia Bunea, eight, have been missing since September 2016.
Police Supporters’ Association head Neophytos Papamiltiadous told the state television channel earlier this week that although law enforcement authorities were doing an excellent job, anecdotal evidence suggests that the officers who first handled the missing persons’ reports did not do their job properly.
Mr Papamiltiadous said it would have been better if the members of the committee probing police actions had been appointed from outside the force.