Police are crosschecking names of female foreign workers to see if there could be more victims in the Mitseros murders, while foreign experts try to get inside the suspected serial killer’s mind.
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The search for at least three bodies in the Mitseros murders was set to continue on Wednesday at two locations in Nicosia district, Memi lake in Xiliatos reservoir and the Red Lake in Mitseros, despite poor visibility and lack of sonar equipment.
Searching for unreported missing women
In the meantime, investigators were said to be skimming through a list of foreign female workers to determine how many of them have been deactivated by their employers, in other words women who have left their current jobs and their employers reported back to Immigration but not necessarily to police. The names were reportedly compiled by Immigration officials in an effort to assist crime investigators in identifying women whose possible disappearance may not have been reported to authorities but may have had contact with Orestis online.
The new direction in the investigation came after the remains of an adult woman were found in a remote pit at Orounda’s military shooting range, reportedly dumped by alleged serial killer Nikos Metaxas. The suspect, a 35-year-old Greek Cypriot army captain and a skilled photographer, is in custody in connection with the murders of seven women and children.
He was said to have identified the body in Orounda as a woman from either India or Nepal. Reports later named the victim as 30-year-old Asmita Khadka Bista from Nepal but her body has not been officially confirmed. A number of other women also have come forward saying they were approached by the suspect who wanted to go out with them.
Asmita disappeared one month after Marry Rose
A friend of Marry Rose warned police about Orestis in May 2018, while Asmita had contact with the suspect online and was seen for the last time getting into a white car a month later
Asmita is believed to have met the suspect through the social networking website Badoo, where Metaxas met women including some of his alleged victims under the social handle Orestis35.
A friend of another victim, 38-year-old slain Filipina Marry Rose Tiburcio, had warned police about Orestis on 5 May 2018. A day earlier, Marry Rose and her daughter, 6-year-old Sierra Graze Seucalliuc, went to spend the night with the suspect but never came back the following day. Their friend, who filed a missing persons report, says police failed to follow up on the information she had provided, including Orestis’ mobile phone number.
Police officers reportedly dialed the phone number but did not follow up after realizing it had been turned off. When Sierra’s school had inquired as to the whereabouts of the little girl, police wrote a letter to the school in Larnaca saying mother and child crossed into the north and left the country.
A month later, the Nepalese woman was last seen getting into a white car in July 2018, leaving behind her belongings, including clothes and money. Her friends contacted the Nepalese consulate but did not go to the police, according to reports.
Search for bodies continues
Authorities continue to search for the bodies of one woman and two children at the red lake, reportedly dumped by Orestis. The army captain was seen several times after his arrest pointing out to investigators exact locations where he said he dumped the bodies. He has admitted in stages to killing five women and two children but has denied any other murders.
One suitcase with an adult female body in the fetal position has been retrieved so far from the red lake, believed to be either 30-year-old Maricar Valdez Arquiola from the Philippines or 36-year-old Livia Florentina Bunea from Romania. Livia’s 8-year-old daughter Elena Natalia Bunea is also feared dead inside a suitcase underwater, based on the suspect’s confession. The red lake victims had been reported as missing to police in 2016 and 2017. Livia's friends and next of kin who had important information said they were never asked to give statements to police, while investigators said they believed mother and child had crossed into the north and left the country.
A piece of advanced sonar equipment scheduled to arrive on Friday night is expected to help retrieve the second suitcase and also locate the third body.
Divers are also facing challenges in their search for Marry Rose’s daughter in Memi lake in Xiliatos reservoir, some eight miles west of the old and abandoned mine shaft in Mitseros. The body of her mother was found on April 14 right across from the red lake and days later, another woman also from the Philippines, 28-year-old Αrian Palanas Lozano, was found in the same mine shaft, with both bodies found naked and bound. The initial grim discovery and the uncovering of more bodies led to the unraveling of a serial killer investigation that was unprecedented in Cyprus.
Experts lend a hand
A team of experts from the United Kingdom landed in Cyprus earlier this week to assist local authorities in putting together a psychological profile of the suspect. The officials from Scotland Yard will also use their expertise to advise investigators as they explore new directions in the case.
In addition, forensic pathologist Andreas Marnerides has also been called from the UK. The Greek-trained Cypriot pathologist has assisted authorities in the past on other cases, including the ongoing trials of an unsolved death of a woman in Yeroskipou and a homicide case where a father is facing a life sentence in the death of his baby boy.
Police have recently fought back at allegations accusing them of not doing enough to locate missing women or plausibly prevent murders. Officials argued privacy laws were stoo strict in investigating missing persons complaints, while critics insist that police officers did not take missing complaints of foreign women seriously.