Robotic cameras head back in the water on Monday in search for little Sierra, with officials still contemplating a partial drain of the lake.
Following the recovery of a total of six bodies in the serial killer case, police believe one more victim lies in a watery grave at Memi Lake, Xiliatos reservoir in rural Nicosia. Officials appear to be certain about the location of the body of six-year-old Sierra Graze Seucalliuc, after alleged serial killer Nikos Metaxas reportedly told crime investigators he dumped the little girl’s body at the lake.
The search has proven to be very difficult due to a large volume of water combined with an uneven terrain at the bottom of the lake. Experts also pointed out the difficulty in the search, citing police are looking for a body only wrapped in a sheet and exposed to the elements for an extended period of time. Divers were said to be ready for a new search after a long rest over the weekend.
But Fire Department Operations Chief Marcos Trangolas says he may have a solution to make the search less difficult. Trangolas, who has been overseeing the search for other slain victims for almost two months, told reporters last week that if the water level at Memi Lake could go down by five metres, this could help divers in their difficult task.
Matsakis says the red lake should have been drained so that police could ascertain the possibility of more bodies or other evidence of criminal activity
The Water Development Department has been opposed to the idea of draining Memi Lake, citing environmental risks. The final decision will be made after scientific results from water samples are made known by the state chemist.
Private forensic pathologist Marios Matsaskis, an outspoken critic of local authorities handling the case, had previously called for both lakes to be completely drained. He said the search at the red lake, which has been officially declared complete by Trangolas, should have been handled differently from the beginning, calling for the toxic water to be drained out so that police could ascertain what was beneath the surface, including the possibility of more bodies or other evidence of criminal activity.
Matsakis also argued that the lakes near old and abandoned mines should be closed up, pointing fingers to officials who never went through with mine reclamation.
Metaxas, a Greek Cypriot army captain also known as Orestis, is believed to have targeted more victims while police say they have no solid evidence besides the seven victims he reportedly admitted killing between 2016 and 2018.
Police are looking for three females who may have been possible targets, whose names also were on a list of ten women who had online communication with Orestis. One of these three women was said to have been possibly overseas while four other women are expected to be called in to identify the suspect in a police lineup.
The case came to light in mid-April after the body of Sierra’s mother, 38-year-old Filipina Marry Rose Tiburcio was discovered by chance inside a flooded mine shaft in Mitseros, some eight miles east of Memi. Another Filipina was discovered at the same location days later with three more female bodies recovered from the Red Lake, right across from the abandoned mine shaft. The remains of another woman from Nepal were also found in rural Nicosia inside a dry well on land used as a firing range.
Orestis is expected to be remanded once again in police custody this week, with police reportedly being reluctant to file a case with the court just yet. Prosecutors were said to have been exercising their rights to the full extent of the law, seeking remand renewals based on new evidence in the investigation.
Some media speculation suggested police want to keep the suspect away from incarceration at Central Prisons until crucial evidence can be obtained. The suspect reportedly has not objected to his seven previous remands, with reports saying he waived his right to legal counsel.