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Police scramble for leads in ‘heinous murders’ (Update 2)

By George Psyllides

Police were scrambling for leads all day Friday after an elderly couple was found shot dead in Ayios Ioannis in the Pitsilia area in what has been described as a “heinous crime” whose motive has not yet been determined.

The bodies of Savvas Sophocleous, 74, and his 78-year-old wife Kyriaki were found at 9.30pm on Thursday by a friend who went looking for them after they disappeared on Wednesday afternoon.

They lay dead in a storage shed at their orchard.

“We went down with flash lights and found them in the shed,” Christophoros Christophorou said.

State pathologist Nicolas Charalambous said the couple had been shot a number of times.

Reports said the woman was shot four times and her husband two. The weapon used was a 9mm pistol.

Limassol CID chief Ioannis Soteriades said four shell casings were found outside the room and two inside.

Police believe the man was initially shot outside and then tried to take cover inside where he was apparently executed in cold blood together with his wife.

Soteriades said the couple were shot in the head and chest.

Investigators combed the scene for clues that would help solve the case whose motives they have yet to determine.

They also collected footage from security cameras from area co-operative banks in a bid to find a lead.

Soteriades said all possibilities were being considered, including the couple being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Witnesses said they saw a white car in the area and heard several shots on Wednesday at 5pm, around the same time the couple parked their white van on the side of the road and took the path down to their orchard.

“There was a white car parked there,” an elderly man told state television, adding however that he could not see the make and model.

Another resident said he heard two to three shots, there was a break, and the shots continued.

The couple had been sought by friends after not showing up since that time. Their disappearance had not been reported to authorities however, because it was assumed they had travelled to Limassol where their three daughters live.

The small community of some 360 permanent residents was in shock on Friday.

“They were harmless people, harmless, what happened is unbelievable,” Nafsika Palama said.

The head of the community council said the couple did not appear to have any differences with anyone.

“They were an elderly couple, cheerful, didn’t bother anyone. They tended to their orchards to help their children,” Michalis Ioakim said.

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