In This Toxic Lake, a Serial Killer's Victims

Cyprus is dealing with 'a form of crime unprecedented' for the country
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2019 1:23 PM CDT
Updated May 4, 2019 1:10 PM CDT
In This Toxic Lake, a Serial Killer's Victims
Members of the Cyprus Special Disaster Response Unit are seen in boat as they search for suitcases in a man-made lake, near the village of Mitsero outside of the capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, April 30, 2019.   (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

(Newser) – Investigators in Cyprus are currently looking for at least two suitcases at the bottom of a toxic lake. What they believe to be inside is gruesome: the remains of murdered females, two of seven women and girls that an unnamed Cypriot army captain allegedly admitted to killing. He has not been charged, but the alleged serial killings are being described as the first in the country's modern history. The case has led to an outcry against the police, who are accused of bungling the investigation, with the outrage zeroing in on the fact that the dead and missing are all foreigners. The latest:

  • The man-made lake is located at an abandoned copper mine west of the capital of Nicosia. The Washington Post reports the killings came to light thanks to a tourist who was taking pictures at that mine—and spotted something that looked like a person floating in a water-filled shaft. It was a rope-bound woman wearing only two heart-shaped earrings. She was ultimately identified as Mary Rose Tiburcio, 38. The Filipino woman had been missing since May, along with her 6-year-old daughter.

  • Police learned Tiburcio vanished after going to meet "Orestis," a man she had met on an app. He turned out to be a 35-year-old National Guard captain with two kids, and he has allegedly confessed to the seven killings in a 10-page handwritten document.
  • The body of another Filipino woman was found April 20 in the same shaft. Five days later another body, likely that of a woman from Nepal, was found buried near a firing range. On Sunday came the first suitcase from the lake. It was attached to a concrete block and is thought to hold the remains of another Filipino woman who went missing in December 2017. That brings the total recovered body count to four. The AP reports the search has been slow-going due to visibility that's limited to just inches in some areas.
  • Florentina Bunea, a 36-year-old Romanian woman, and her 8-year-old daughter are thought to also be in the lake. They haven't been seen since September 2016. Officials are looking for the body of Tiburcio's daughter in a reservoir near the lake.
  • CNN reports Cyprus, which is home to only 1.2 million people, has reached out to Scotland Yard for help in dealing with what looks like its first serial killings. "This is a form of crime unprecedented for the norms of Cyprus," the New York Times quotes Police Chief Zacharias Chrysostomou as saying.
  • The Cyprus Mail reports many are calling for the resignations of the country's justice minister and Chrysostomou amid accusations the women's disappearances were overlooked due to the fact they were foreign workers. The friend who reported Bunea missing some 30 months ago says police failed to even call her to get a statement.
(Read more Cyprus stories.)

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