Cyprus Mail
Crime

Army officer now being investigated for third murder (Updated)

Army officer Nicos Metaxas

Police said on Wednesday they were investigating a third murder case against the 35-year-old suspect held in connection with killing two women whose bodies were found in an abandoned mine shaft.

In a statement in the afternoon, police said Nicos Metaxas, an army officer, was being investigated in connection with premeditated murder and abduction with a view to commit murder in a third case.

Police said the new case emerged following analysis of the suspect’s phone data but would not say if it was connected to anyone on their missing persons’ list.

Metaxas is expected to be brought before court on Thursday morning.

The statement came as authorities continued their search for potential victims in two areas, the shaft at Mitsero mine and a lake at Xyliatos, without result.

Fire service chief Marcos Trangolas said crews had completed searching about 95 per cent of the shaft without finding anything.

“The search inside the shaft has been completed apart from 10 metres in its east side,” Trangolas said.

The fire chief said there was an obstacle in the way, which crews would try and overcome on Thursday morning using a smaller camera.

“Based on the search of 95 per cent of the shaft, nothing has been found to raise suspicions,” Trangolas said.

He said it would take around an hour and a half to go through the remaining area though it did not appear they expected to find anything.

Earlier on Wednesday, police said an inquiry had been ordered to look into any missteps by the force in investigating the cases of two missing women who turned up murdered in the mine, and that have left one of the women’s six-year-old girl missing, presumed dead.

He said a three-member team had been appointed to carry out an administrative inquiry to see if there were disciplinary or criminal offences by any member of the force in earlier investigations that failed to find the women who had been reported missing but were never located or their fate established.

Speaking to reporters at the mine where the bodies of the two Filipino women were discovered, police spokesman Andreas Angelides said they had searched ten different areas that included Mitsero and the lake at Xyliatos where the search is ongoing for the missing child.

Police had also seized three vehicles for DNA testing. An 11-man team of detectives were working on the cases, he said.

“The suspect has been questioned again but I will not publicly say anything about this,” he said, adding that it was likely he would be questioned several more times.

He is already on remand in connection with the murder the two women found in the water-filled mine shaft in the past week. He has allegedly confessed to killing both, and of sinking the child’s body in a lake.

“Nothing has been identified inside the shaft but the search continues because there is reason to continue. If it is decided to halt the search, that will come later,” Angelides said. He said searches were going on in other areas but did not specify where.

“The motivation is being explored and the profile of the suspect put together,” he said.

About the search for the missing child, Angelides said it was continuing.

The child, six-year-old Sierra, was the daughter of Mary Rose Tiburcio, 39, from the Philippines who was the first victim to be located at the mine on April 14. She and her daughter were reported missing from Larnaca on May 5, 2018.

A second woman who has not yet been identified other than as being Asian, was pulled out of the shaft badly decomposed we week later. Both women were naked and bound.

According to police, the suspect had told them the body belonged to Arian Palanas Lozano, 28. She had been reported missing last July.

The search in Xyliatos will be conducted by specially-trained divers after failing to find a trace of the child’s body so far, even using an underwater robotic camera. This operation is likely to get underway on Thursday.

According to reports, a special boat used to repair vessels at sea is being brought in, along with a specialised diver from the private sector who is trained in deep-water diving.

However, near-zero visibility and the topography of the lake bed could make the project difficult. Reports also suggest the suspect in the case may be misdirecting the search to the lake and that the child’s body could be in Mitsero.

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