Experts have began mapping the bottom of the red lake using sonar technology in the serial killer case, while the second body found in a nearby mine shaft has been positively identified.
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Officials started scanning the red lake on Saturday in Mitseros, Nicosia district, in search of at least two bodies in connection with a serial killer case that has shocked the island and the world. A week ago, the body of a Romanian woman was retrieved from the lake inside a suitcase, while her young daughter and an adult Filipina are believed to have been dumped at the same location by alleged serial killer Nikos Metaxas, who is already in custody.
Sonar equipment brought in from the United States is currently mapping the bottom of the lake, following the discovery of the first body which created zero visibility conditions during the extraction process. The body of 36-year-old Livia Florentina Bunea was pulled out last Sunday while speculation about more victims prompted critics to call for the entire red lake to be drained. It is understood that sonar technology instead dewatering will map the entire lake so that investigators can move forward with the investigation.
Officials are still trying to ascertain whether the suspect may be hiding more victims
In the meantime, reports said the body of the second woman found right across from the lake, inside an abandoned and flooded mine shaft, was positively identified on Friday. DNA evidence reportedly confirmed that the body of 28-year-old Αrian Palanas Lozano was the woman found naked and bound only days after the body of 38-year-old Marry Rose Tiburcio, also from the Philippines, had been discovered at the same location. Arian, who was reportedly eager to work during her summer break for extra money, went missing in July 2018.
Marry Rose’s young daughter Sierra remains missing and is feared dead, with the alleged serial killer also known as Orestis telling investigators he dumped the little girl’s body in Memi lake, some eight miles west of the mine shaft. Sonar mapping is expected to take place in the search for Sierra as well but it was not clear how soon. Investigators learned that Orestis was approaching Asian female domestic workers online, often trying to lure them by offering high pay for part time work, while he reportedly said he killed the two children to get rid of witnesses.
The total number of victims based on a reported confession by Metaxas comes to seven foreign females, five women and two young girls who went missing between September 2016 and July 2018. But officials are still trying to evaluate whether the suspect may be hiding more victims.
The fourth body is believed to be 30-year-old Asmita Khadka Bista from Nepal, based on Orestis’ confession, but additional tests were still pending before officials can make a positive identification. Asmita, who was initially thought not to have been on police radar following her disappearance, was in fact reported to Immigration authorities by her employment agent, who called for her arrest after she reportedly abandoned her work and used up her 30-day grace period. Reports said Asmita was in search of another job where she could have more privacy while at the same time she indicated to her family back home that it was time for her to return.
The case has shocked the island, both locals and foreign nationals, some of whom accused police of not taking seriously complaints of missing foreign women. President Nicos Anastasiades accepted the resignation of his justice minister on Thursday and relieved the chief of police of his duties on Friday, telling foreign dignitaries from a number of cornered countries that he would vow to introduce more strict guidelines to ensure foreign female workers receive protection which they are entitled by law.
Alleged serial killer has admitted seven murders:
- Marry Rose Tiburcio, 38, Philippines (DNA confirmed)
- Sierra Graze Seucalliuc, 6, Philippines (presumed dead)
- Αrian Palanas Lozano, 28, Philippines (DNA confirmed)
- Maricar Valdez Arquiola, 30, Philippines (presumed dead)
- Livia Florentina Bunea, 36, Romania (body identified)
- Elena Natalia Bunea, 8, Romania (presumed dead)
- Asmita Khadka Bista, 30, Nepal (DNA pending)