As information comes out in drips and drabs on the backstories to the apparent murders of two Filipino women, a picture is emerging of police tending to display an alarming insouciance when dealing with cases of missing persons who happen to be domestic workers.
Media are reporting that the 35-year-old male suspect, who has allegedly confessed to strangling Arian Palanas Lozano, 28, was using the handle ‘Orestis’ on an online dating app. She was reported missing last July.
The same online handle was reportedly used by the man who was dating Mary Rose Tiburcio, 39, when she went missing in May last year.
Both women are from the Philippines. Their bodies were recovered from a mine shaft in Mitsero.
If confirmed, it raises the possibility that authorities might have prevented Lozano’s murder had they properly investigated Tiburcio’s prior disappearance.
All the more so, it is argued, given the speed with which police have now discovered the ‘Orestis’ connection after checking his online activities.
Moreover, news outlet Reporter cited an official document – a police report – which mentioned the name ‘Orestis’.
Dated May 5, 2018, it said that Tiburcio’s female friend reported to authorities that on the previous day Tiburcio and her daughter had travelled to Nicosia to spend the night with the woman’s friend, referred to as ‘Orestis’.
The woman and her child were expected to return at 6am on May 5. They were never seen again.
The police report goes on to state that at the time an attempt was made to contact Tiburcio, but her mobile phone number was unreachable.
Reports emerged later on Monday claiming that the police were also contacted regarding the whereabouts of Tiburcio’s six-year-old daughter, Sierra Graze Seucalliuc – missing to this day and likewise feared dead – by staff of Sierra’s kindergarten after she was absent for three consecutive days. The worried staff were reportedly told by police that Sierra had left the country.
Authorities subsequently compiled a press release concerning a missing person, with the mother’s photograph. No reference whatsoever was made to Sierra Graze Seucalliuc – missing to this day and likewise feared dead.
This would suggest the police knew then that ‘Orestis’ was likely the last person to have had contact with the mother and daughter.
This raises a series of questions: what investigations were conducted in Nicosia? Did police seek a court order to access Tiburcio’s phone records?
More importantly, did authorities check records at the ports of entry and exit to determine whether the mother and child had travelled overseas? And if – as it’s been reported – they assumed Tiburcio may have departed Cyprus, should they have not previously determined that the daughter’s passport was still on the island?
If police believed Tiburcio had returned to the Philippines – as authorities allegedly told the daughter’s school at the time – did they verify this with Filipino authorities?
At which point was foul play ruled out? Did police interview friends of Tiburcio, and if so how many?
On the case of Lozano, also a domestic worker, Reporter discovered that last summer her employer had grown concerned when she went missing.
The employer contacted Lozano’s friend, whom Lozano was supposed to be visiting in Platres. The 28-year-old could not be reached on her phone.
Lozano’s friend told the employer that Lozano never showed up. The employer then filed a missing person report with police. The case was subsequently investigated by Nicosia CID.
The case was later classed as a “non-police matter”.