A 35-year-old man was remanded in custody on Thursday in connection with the suspected murder of a woman, the third so far in what appears to be Cyprus’ first recorded serial murder case.
Police told the court that Nicos Metaxas, an army officer, was suspected in the premeditated murder of 30-year-old Filipina Marricar Valdez Arguiola who had been reported missing on December 15, 2017, by her mother.
Investigators said they had found photos of Arguiola at the suspect’s home in Nicosia. They also said that he had met Marricar two days before she had been reported missing.
Lead investigator Ioannis Yiorkadjis told the court that Arguiola had told friends she was going to meet the brother of her deceased partner, though evidence shows that she had met with Metaxas.
The suspect has reportedly admitted to meeting with Arguiola, but not of killing her.
The court remanded the suspect for two days, as police said they wanted previous remand orders to expire on Saturday before requesting his detention anew. Metaxas, who appeared in court without a lawyer, did not object.
Five statements have so far been gathered in connection with Marricar’s case, Yiorkadjis said, noting that over 50 more are expected in the coming days. The bulk of information being contributed by the public has also proved crucial, he said.
Police will be carrying out a fresh search for genetic evidence in the home and two cars of the 35-year-old.
Metaxas is in custody for the murders of two other Filipinas whose bodies were found naked and bound in a shaft of the abandoned Mitsero mine. The body of Mary Rose Tiburcio, 39, was found on 14 April, one week before search crews retrieved the body of Arian Palanas Lozano, 28, who has not been officially identified yet, on 20 April.
Metaxas is also suspected of killing Tiburcio’s six-year-old daughter Sierra.
Earlier in the week, Metaxas admitted he had strangled Tiburcio in his home before dumping her in the mine shaft. While in his confession he denied killing the six-year-old, he told police that he did dump her body in lake Memi, at the Xyliatos reservoir area, some 15 minutes’ drive from the mine.
Following the suspect’s link with the third woman, police said they will be re-examining the data of the first two murders.
Authorities are continuing the search for possible additional bodies in the mine shaft and for Sierra in the lake, 95 per cent of which they said has already been searched, though nothing was found. After days of inconclusive searches in the lake, police said they will be using specially-trained divers.
Near-zero visibility and the topography of the lake bed is making the project difficult.
On Wednesday, police spokesman Andreas Angelides said police had searched for the six-year-old in ten different areas that included Mitsero and the lake at Xyliatos. An 11-man team of detectives were working on the cases, he said.
“The motivation is being explored and the profile of the suspect put together,” Angelides said.
Angelides also announced on Wednesday that 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 women reported missing that were never located or their fate established.
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.
Additional reports have emerged pointing to further inadequate practices in the case of missing Arguiola.
The employer of Arguiola’s mother told the media on Thursday that in addition to reporting her missing one day after her disappearance, and 48 hours after that, when she is officially considered missing, he also submitted three more reports of her disappearance, to no avail.