A former student of the suspected serial killer says the army captain was fascinated with Mitseros during photography lessons but there was never any indication that he might be a psychopath.
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The suspect in the murders of two Filipinas gave photography lessons right at the scene of the crimes, according to a person who signed up for his classes. The confessed killer, a 35-year-old Greek Cypriot army captain and amateur photographer, was described by the student as “the last person that anyone would suspect of these crimes” according to SigmaLive.
“He would show up always prepared. Pleasant and approachable guy, ready to give answers to student questions,” the former student said about the suspect, who often took his class to the old abandoned mine in Mitseros for field training.
Authorities have confiscated a number of cameras and other equipment, including a drone, after the suspect’s Facebook account revealed photos and videos of the Mitseros mine and surrounding area. The account was shut down on Monday at the request of the suspect, according to local media reports.
Forensic anthropologists called in for help
State pathologists on Monday were unable to determine the cause of death for the second female body found in Mitseros, prompting authorities to call in forensic anthropologists to assist in the process.
The full extent of the crimes is not fully known, while members of the Filipino community fear dozens of women may have been victims of a serial killer
While authorities did not appear to have definitive or reliable information as to the identity of the victim, speculation points to 28-year-old Αrian Palanas Lozano from the Philippines following a confession by the suspect in custody.
The suspect admitted to investigators that he murdered two women after the body of 38-year-old Filipina Marry Rose Tiburcio was discovered inside a mine shaft at an old abandoned site in Kokkinoyia, Mitseros, Nicosia district.
More bodies buried in watery grave
But officials believe there could be more bodies inside the flooded shaft, after a robotic camera detected what appeared to be images of at least two more corpses. Police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou also warned in a statement Monday that the full extent of the crimes was not fully known, while members of the Filipino community fear that a far greater number of women may have been victims of a serial killer.
Marry Rose’s daughter, 6-year-old Sierra Graze Seucalliuc, is also feared dead while the suspect was believed to be misleading authorities as to her whereabouts. Underwater search at a nearby lake, pointed out by the suspect, has yielded nothing so far while the search resumed Tuesday morning focusing on specific areas within the lake.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, the suspect approached over 30 women as potential victims in the last two years. Media sources said the man who went by the social media handle “Orestis” was preying on a specific group of women, telling investigators he “had a thing for Filipinas” and after killing Marry Rose he wanted to do it again.
Marry Rose and her daughter disappeared on 4 May 2018, when they went to Larnaca International Airport to meet up with the suspect who was flying in from an overseas trip. He had been communicating with her online and was on his way back possibly from military training in Lebanon according to Louis Koutroukides, president of the Housemaids Association of Cyprus.
Koutroukides says he was told off by police last year when he went to demand answers after a Filipina friend of the victim told him she had lost hope three months into the disappearance.
Following shocking revelations against the police, Koutroukides alleged that police “did absolutely nothing” to locate Marry Rose or mobilize law enforcement to search for the little girl, who still could be alive and may have been sold to traffickers according to the HMA president.
Police told school mother and child left country
Another blow against the police came late Monday when a letter to the administration of the school where Sierra attended prior to her disappearance was made public. The school had contacted police in early May 2018 to inquire as to the whereabouts of Sierra, with the police writing back to notify the school that Sierra was “out of the country” adding that their pupil and her mother crossed into the north and left for the Philippines.
Critics accused the Greek Cypriot police of not treating the case with due diligence, after learning that Marry Rose and her daughter’s passports were left in the south and that no attempt had been made to check with Turkish Cypriot authorities through the bicommunal crime committee as to whether they crossed into the north.
The police chief, who described the case as unprecedented for Cyprus, vowed to get to the bottom of all the issues raised by the public and critics as soon as all facts could be established.
Greek authorities are also said to be investigating the possibility that the suspect may have committed similar crimes in Greece, where he travelled and trained as a military cadet officer.
Mine shaft operation delayed due to safety concerns
A recovery operation in the mine shaft in Mitseros was halted Monday but was expected to continue shortly, as long as divers and the camera operator get assurances for their safety on top of and inside the elevator.
Due to the age of the installation but also underground workings within the mine shaft, officials believe there are safety concerns. The robotic camera operator would need to be located right on top of the elevator above ground, but currently there was no special apparatus to secure his safety according to local reports.
Officials on Monday said they were evaluating other options and vowed to search for “as long as it takes” until they recover all bodies.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, a private company assumed construction duties Tuesday morning to create a safe environmnet for the people involved in the recovery operation. It was not clear whether the operation would resume later in the afternoon or another day.