Scuba divers are back in the water on Tuesday as they face poor visibility and technical delays in the search for victims in the Mitseros serial killer investigation.
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Rescuers from the Emergency Response Unit are still searching two lakes, Memi and Red Lake in Nicosia district, after a suspected serial killer in custody, a 35-year-old Greek Cypriot army captain known as Orestis, admitted to killing seven females including two children and dumped some of the bodies in the water.
Divers were able to retrieve one of two suitcases on Sunday at the red lake in Mitseros, where they discovered an adult female body inside, fully clothed in the fetal position, in an advanced stage of decomposition, along with a cement block to keep the weight down.
One private robotic camera is being used at both locations, while sonar equipment is expected to arrive late Friday to help map out the landscape underwater
The second suitcase is expected to be pulled out of the water within days but technical problems and poor visibility are reportedly causing delays. The location of a third suitcase has yet to be determined, while officials are said to be relying on information from the suspect who pointed out on-site where he had thrown the bodies.
A forensic anthropologist on Tuesday is expected to assist in determining cause of death and identifying the body, believed to be either 36-year-old Livia Florentina Bunea from Romania or 30-year-old Maricar Valdez Arquiola from the Philippines. Livia was last seen with her daughter, 8-year-old daughter Elena Natalia Bunea, in September 2016, while Maricar went missing in December 2017. The child is believed to be in one of two suitcases currently underwater, while officials have not ruled the possibility of more victims.
Three other bodies had been discovered previously, including two Filipinas whose bodies were found naked and bound inside an abandoned mine shaft right across from the red lake. DNA evidence confirmed one body belonged to 39-year-old Marry Rose Tiburcio while confirmation is pending for the second body believed to be 28-year-old Αrian Palanas Lozano. The remains of another victim, believed to be 30-year-old Asmita Khadka Bista from Nepal, were retrieved last week from a remote pit in Orounda, within the area of a military shooting range in Nicosia district.
Marry Rose’s daughter, 6-year-old Sierra Graze Seucalliuc, is also feared dead after the suspect admitted to investigators he dumped the little girl’s body in Memin lake, Xiliatos reservoir, about eight miles west of Mitseros. He reportedly said he killed the two children out of fear they might be able to identify him to police for killing their mothers.
On Tuesday, a diver in Xiliatos will attempt to locate Sierra at Memi lake while a robotic camera will continue to search for the third suitcase in the acidic waters in Mitseros.
Delays in the search efforts are believed to be caused by lack of equipment, as only one private robotic camera is being used at both locations. Sonar equipment is also expected to arrive late Friday, which will assist officials in mapping out the exact landscape in trouble spot areas underneath the water, crucial to making further discovery but also retrieval attempt.