Tuesday 20 August 2019

Child's body is fifth victim of serial killer, police believe

Women cry during a public vigil in memory of the victims of a suspected serial killer in the mine where two women were found dead. Photo: Reuters
Women cry during a public vigil in memory of the victims of a suspected serial killer in the mine where two women were found dead. Photo: Reuters

Michele Kambas in Nicosia

Police in Cyprus have found a body in a lake they believe to be the fifth victim of a suspected serial killer who preyed on foreign women for almost three years without detection.

Divers retrieved the body, which is believed to be that of a child, from a lake west of the capital Nicosia, the same location where a woman was found dead in a submerged suitcase a week ago.

"A body has been found decomposed. It is not identifiable and is being taken to the mortuary now for further inquiries," a police official said. The latest body was also in a suitcase, another official on the scene said.

A 35-year-old army captain has been in custody since late April on suspicion of killing five women and the young daughters of two of the victims.

Four of those killed are thought to be from the Philippines, including a mother and her six-year-old daughter.

A woman from Romania and her eight-year-old daughter and a further victim from Nepal were also killed. Police say they have two written confessions from the suspect, who met the women online.

Most were employed as housekeepers on the island, and disappeared between September 2016 and August 2018.

The case has triggered outrage and horror in Cyprus, where the killings appear to be the worst peacetime atrocities against women.

On Friday, Cyprus's president fired the chief of police, citing apparent shortcomings in the investigation into the women's disappearances. That followed the resignation a day earlier of the justice minister.

Authorities using sonar to scan a man-made lake in the bowl of an abandoned copper mine discovered the body yesterday afternoon.

Hours earlier, the suspect was taken before a local magistrate, who extended his period of remand pending the completion of inquiries.

Cypriot police have faced a torrent of criticism over how they handled each case - the magnitude of which was unknown when tourists accidentally found a bound body in a mine shaft on April 14.

Irish Independent

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