The court appearance of the 33-year-old suspect in the Strovolos double murder has raised many questions, while investigators continue to sort through evidence in what is described as an unprecedented case.
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The shocking crime and the many unknowns are fueling a sense of insecurity in Cypriot society, with authorities keeping a tight lid on the case as they conduct their investigation.
The victims, 60-year-old teacher Yiorgos Hadjigeorgiou and his 59-year-old wife Dina Sergiou were found savagely stabbed to death multiple times in the bedroom of their own house one week ago in Strovolos, Nicosia.
Two forensic pathologists determined the murders were carried out with a lot of passion or hate towards the victims, although not all results have been made officially available yet.
Arrest raises more questions
On Thursday, there were shocking revelations at the Nicosia District Court when the suspect said he knew what had happened and was willing to give names as well as talk about motives.
The man, who did not object to his remand for eight days, was arrested Wednesday evening based on a statement obtained by police in a second round of interviews with witnesses.
A tweet by police said “a man was arrested a short while ago, aged 33, in order to facilitate the investigation in connection with the double murder in Strovolos.”
Son to pick suspect in police lineup
The teenage son of the victims, who said he was sleeping in his bedroom at the time of the crime, will be asked to pick the suspect in a police lineup.
According to the teen, aged 14, he heard his mother crying and at that moment a man walked into his bedroom telling him his parents were killed and that he wouldn’t hurt him.
“I killed your parents. Where is the money?” said the man, according to the 14-year-old boy, who said he was grabbed by the bearded man and taken to the kitchen under the threat of a knife.
“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. I also have a son,” the killer reportedly told the boy.
The man then asked the boy to unlock the kitchen door and then a second person, wearing a mask with the face covered, entered the residence.
Half an hour later, the boy managed to escape and went to seek help at a neighbour’s house.
A second individual, a possible female accomplice, is wanted by police.
Suspect says shoe evidence planted at the scene
DNA inside the house matched the suspect’s genetic profile, with the prosecutor telling the judge that two items found in the residence belonged to the suspect. But police did not say and it was not clear whether the evidence linked the suspect directly to the murders.
A pair of shoes was found inside the house, with the suspect appearing to admit it belonged to him. But according to a report on daily Phileleftheros, the man had told police investigators he believed his shoes were planted at the scene in order to incriminate him.
Two notebooks were also found inside the suspect’s vehicle, reportedly detailing many issues in the case. It is widely believed that the suspect might have kept notes himself, but the content and author of those notes officially remains unknown with the suspect saying he is ready to talk to police.
The suspect is facing charges of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit murder, theft, kidnapping, burglary, possession of burglary tools and instigating a crime.
Police last week had warned that the case was unprecedented in Cypriot society, noting early on that they believed the crime scene was tainted. It is not clear if new evidence caused investigators to shift their thinking or whether they still believe they are dealing with some tainted evidence.
A second autopsy was reportedly crucial in showing the exact time of death, an important detail in the cracking the case wide open. But this remains unknown as official results from teh second autopsy have not been shared publicly.
Deputy Chief of Police Kypros Michaelides told reporters that “police are working methodically, with objectivity, responsibility and professionalism in an effort to solve this serious case.”
Private forensic pathologist cries foul
Marios Matsakis, a private forensic pathologist who says he was enlisted by the victims’ family to assist in the investigation, says state forensic pathologists gave police wrong information at the very beginning.
The private forensic pathologist said the murders had nothing to do with common sense but a burglary gone very wrong
Questions were raised over the credibility and reliability of state forensic pathologists last week, with Matsakis pointing out that loss of valuable time between the first and second autopsies was counter-productive and possibly damaging to the investigation.
Following public reaction and media frenzy over the case, Matsakis sought to clarify that the boy was innocent and not involved in any way in the brutal murders of his parents. Police have not named the boy as either witness or suspect but the forensic pathologist said many reports and the initial direction of the investigation were putting undue pressure on the boy.
In response to a reporter on live television who told Matsakis it didn’t make sense why would robbers stab to death the victims with so much hate, the forensic pathologist explained this had nothing to do with common sense but a burglary gone very wrong.
The victim’s family lawyer, Yiogros Papaioannou, went on live radio Friday to say that the boy was vindicated through recent developments and criticised any reports that the boy might have been involved in some way.
“Almost everyone is convinced about that, but this is totally unreal. I’ve seen many scenarios without merit. Really, I wonder how many people were willing to entertain and disseminate such ideas,” the lawyer said.
A forensic psychologist form Scotland Yard was rumoured to join investigators, but it is not clear if or when this will take place.
Police say they handled the case responsibly
Responding to public criticism, police spokesman Andreas Angelides issued a statement.
“From the beginning we had said that we were examining all the evidence based on an assessment of the information we had, which also led to the arrest of the 33-year-old. Police continue to investigate the case responsibly without being influenced by any scenarios circulating out there.”