Alice Gross: Arnis Zalkalns Was The Serial Killer With A Guilty Conscience
THE tabloids lead with news that the hunt for 14-year-old Alice Gross’ killer is over. The body of Arnis Zalkalns, 41, has been found in woodland in Boston Manor Park, West London.
The Sunday Times adds a spot of history:
The park, which was built in 1623, has a children’s play area and tennis courts. It is just a mile from where police found Alice’s body wrapped in plastic and weighed down by logs in the River Brent last Tuesday.
The tabloids would be right were it not for one fact: it’s not poven that Zalkans killed her.
The Sun asks:
Police faced tough questions last night over why it took so long to find the body of their main suspect. Zalkalns was discovered hanging from a tree in woods at 2.30pm yesterday, just two miles from the Ealing home he shared with his partner and one-year-old daughter.
Sad news for them. Reports were light on the fact that the wanted man was father to a young child.
He vanished from his flat in the early hours of September 4 — a week after 14-year-old Alice is thought to have been abducted and murdered while walking home along a river towpath in nearby Hanwell.
Grim stuff. But the story is about the dead man. In light of facts, the Sun speaks with an opinion-for-hire:
Former Met commander John O’Connor said he was “very surprised” he was not found before. He added: “I’d have thought that routine searches alone on the evidence available to police would have led to the discovery of his body much earlier. It now looks very much like he murdered Alice and then killed himself a week later after leaving his home suddenly.”
Always heartening to hear from a former copper dispensing judgement with any need for evidence.
The Met are investigating why homicide command did not lead the hunt for Alice until her bag was found six days after she vanished. Even then, the Met continued to treat it as a missing person’s inquiry with detectives strongly suspecting anorexic Alice may have killed herself while walking home on August 28.
‘Anorexic Alice’? Is her disease relevant? And in the Met’s defence, people go missing often. Most turn up alive and well.
The Sun, for reasons unclear, adds:
TWO young women who disappeared from the same area as Alice have never been found. Student Elizabeth Chau, 19, was last seen walking home to her West Ealing home in April 1999. Nine months later computer graduate Lola Shenkoya, 27, disappeared in Ealing.
The Met said yesterday they believed both were killed by Pole Andrezej Kanowski, 52.
He was jailed in 2004 for the West London murder of Katerina Koneva, 12, and died in 2009.
Is the assumption that Zalkalns was a serieal killer? No evidence that he was. But the Star adds in an “exclusive”:
The Daily Star Sunday can also reveal detectives are now combing missing persons reports, fearing Zalkalns committed other offences in the UK.
The Star can “reveal” that police are doing police work. Scooperama!
The Daily Mail is more circumsepct, but a tad ghoulish:
Ingrid Zalalis, a 46-year-old finance worker from Lithuania, said police ‘searched the park a while ago’ but added: ‘I don’t think they found anything then….Even if it is the man they are looking for, I am not reassured. Perhaps somebody killed her, and then killed him as a witness. We just don’t know.’
The Sunday Times has more on Zalkalns:
Last night Zalkalns’s sister Jolanta Daksa said: “We are shocked by this news but it is what we were expecting.” She said she still did not believe that her brother had killed Alice.
Last weekend Daksa said she had once spoken to her brother about why he had confessed to killing his wife months after the murder and when Latvian police had accepted his story that she was simply missing.
She said he had told her that he “could not cope with the guilt” and this led her to believe he had killed himself.
It also emerged that Zalkalns had saved thousands of pounds before his disappearance. Daksa said her brother had been saving because he was planning to move house and to pay for his two children to travel to England from Latvia.
“He had quite a good amount of money saved,” she said. “He was saving money for more than one year to move apartment and to bring his kids from Latvia to London.”
Court papers filed in Riga central court show how Zalkalns meticulously planned her murder, luring her to a lonely spot 30 miles from Riga where he had hidden weapons and a shovel to kill her and bury her afterwards.
Still in the Times, the mawklish Eleanor Mills writes an Alice and Me story:
The terrible news last week that the body of Alice Gross had been found in the River Brent in west London brought a lump to my throat. It’s a story that I — like every parent — have been watching with dread. For me it has felt particularly personal because I, too, have a daughter called Alice — tall and slim with brown hair.
Anyone who has son or father called Zalkalns should submit a story to the Times for publication.