Third suitcase containing decomposing human dragged from toxic lake

Third suitcase containing decomposing human remains is dragged out of a toxic lake by police probing Cyprus ‘serial killer’ case

  • Police said the discovery is a ‘major development’ in the unfolding investigation 
  • Coroners examined the discovery at the scene, more specialised tests will follow
  • This is the third suitcase containing a body retrieved from the lake near Nicosia  

Divers have dragged a suitcase containing decomposing human remains from a toxic lake – the third such discovery in the east Mediterranean island nation’s serial killer case.

The discovery has been described as a ‘major development’ in the unfolding investigation of a Cypriot army captain who has confessed to the killing of seven foreign women and girls.

The body discovered this morning is believed to belong to Maricar Valtez Arquiola, 31, from the Philippines. 

Captain Nicos Metaxas, 35, ‘the island’s first serial killer’ has not yet been formally charged over the murders of five women and two of their daughters. 

Investigators remove a suitcase from Red Lake in Mitsero village, Cyprus after searching 53 days

Cyprus Special Disaster Response Unit investigators carry a covered suitcase on a stretcher after it was retrieved from a man-made lake near the village of Mitsero

Nicos Metaxas, dubbed ‘the first serial killer of Cyprus’, appeared in court today after confessing to killing five women and two girls

The body discovered this morning is believed to belong to Maricar Valtez Arquiola (pictured), 31, from the Philippines 

Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said coroners examined the latest discovery at the scene while more specialised tests will be carried out to determine the person’s identity.

‘We proceeded with our search keeping two key factors in mind, the degree of difficulty and the level of danger involved,’ said Angelides.

This is the third suitcase containing a body retrieved from the lake following a six-week search.

The 35-year-old suspect had told investigators that he disposed of the bodies of a Filipino woman and a Romanian mother and daughter in the lake after placing their bodies in suitcases. 

Inside the suitcase is believed to be one of the victims of a Cypriot military officer who has confessed to killing seven foreign women and girls

Cyprus Special Disaster Response Unit and investigators transport a suitcase from a boat after it was retrieved from a man-made lake

Cyprus Special Disaster Response Unit, police and investigators look at a suitcase after it was retrieved

The case came to light on April 14 when the bound body of 38-year-old Mary Rose Tiburcio, also from the Philippines, was discovered by chance down a flooded shaft near the toxic lake that was part of what is now a disused copper mine.

The ensuing homicide investigation led to the captain’s arrest following an assessment of his online communication with the victim. 

A second woman’s body – thought to be that of 28-year-old Arian Palanas Lozano, also from the Philippines – was found in the mineshaft a few days later.

Investigators said the suspect, who hasn’t been named yet, confessed to the killings in a ten-page, handwritten note. 

He led them to where he disposed of the bodies, including a dry well in a military firing range where the remains of who is thought to be Ashita Khadka Bista, from Nepal, were found.

Mary Rose Tiburcio, 38 (left) was discovered on April 14 at a mine-shaft, while her six-year-old daughter Sierra is also feared dead

Cypriot media say the soldier is also suspected of killing Romanian mother Livia Florentina Bunea, 36, (left) and her eight-year-old daughter Elena Natalia (right) who went missing in 2016

Maricar Valtez Arquiola, 31 (left) and Arian Palanos Lozano, 28, (right) – have been named by Cypriot media as victims

The case put the spotlight on police failings in investigating missing persons’ cases and led to the resignation of the justice minister and the firing of the police chief.

Officials said some later killings may have been prevented had ‘negligent’ officers properly investigated the first missing person’s reports.

Police continue to search for the body of Tiburcio’s six year-old daughter in another lake where the suspect said he disposed of it.

New Cyprus police chief Kypros Michaelides said what he saw at the lake was ‘unprecedented’ in his 42 years of service and that he had never seen such ‘savagery’.

State radio reported the suitcase was weighed down with pavement slabs. 



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