The drive from the Cypriot capital of Nicosia to Kokkinopezoula (Red Lake) is bucolic for the most part, passing through rolling green hills and empty pastures. But as you approach the lake—a man-made remnant of a mining history that dates back 6,000 years on the Mediterranean island—appearances start to shift; tiered layers of clay rise up, the soil turning dramatically red. Google lists Red Lake and the nearby mine as a tourist attraction (both are part of a UNESCO geopark), so it wasn’t particularly surprising to locals that it would be a tourist who found the first body, bound in a sheet and bobbing at the top of one of the mine’s flooded shafts, on April 14 of this year.

Body Count

What was shocking to locals was that the woman—later identified as 38-year-old Mary Rose Tiburcio—would not be the only victim. It quickly became clear that the small Mediterranean country had its first serial killer: over time, the bodies of four other women and two young children would be found in the area near the mine. All had been killed over a three-year period. After police arrested Nikos Metaxas, a 35-year-old army officer and father of two, he quickly confessed, telling police, “I am bored. I want to go to prison. Bring some paper so I can write it all,” before putting down a 10-page confession.