SUVA, Fiji, July 8 (UPI) — The Pacific paradise of Fiji is in shock after body parts belonging to a missing Russian couple washed ashore on one of its most pristine beaches.
In the latest in a series of grisly discoveries, a vacationing New Zealand couple stumbled across a human head on the sands.
Other body parts have previously been found bundled in cloth, beginning with two two pairs of human feet.
Police believe they belong to a Russian couple, who went missing from their farm on Fiji’s main island June 16. DNA tests confirmed that the feet belonged to the couple, but investigators have yet to receive results for the latest find.
The military has been carrying out a full search on land and in waters surrounding Fiji, and Interpol has been called in to assist.
Vacationing New Zealand couple Graeme and Jan Bickley discovered the head last Monday during a walk on Natadola Beach on Viti Levu, the largest of Fiji’s more than 300 islands.
The missing Russian couple have been named as Yuri Shipulin and Natalia Gerasimova They were reported by the local Fiji Sun to have been in financial difficulties after their farm on the island of Viti Levu was badly damaged by a cyclone in February.
The couple were said to be retirees who moved to Fiji from Russia five years ago, and grew fruits and vegetables that they sold to local businesses.
They went missing on June 16, after last being spotted having drinks on Denarau Island. The following day, police found the couple’s vehicle — with the distinctive licence plate PILOT — unattended with the keys still in the ignition.
Shafia Hassan, a businesswoman who worked with Shipulin, remembered him as “gentle and helpful” and his wife as a “soft, kind lady.”
“This case is a huge mystery for us,” Hassan said. “It is all we can talk about because there are still pieces of the bodies to be found. Whoever did this is mad.”
Friends said that Shipulin was a former pilot for the Russian air force, who had a number of failed business interests on the island and was believed to be owed upwards of $200,000 by former business associates.
“He was living lavishly and burning the candle at both ends,” said Maxim, a friend of the couple.
“Yuri would give you the shirt off his back, he was too trusting and he was taken to the cleaners by unscrupulous people. He found out the hard way. He wanted paradise so bad, he couldn’t see it was rotten.”
Natadola Beach is home to two major resorts, the Intercontinental and the Yatule.
“We have asked the police a number of times why the beach remains open,” said Repeka Nasiko, a reporter for the Fiji Times.
“Because body parts keep turning up, and always on the beach.
“It’s a shocking killing, we are not used to something like this here,” she said. “It is so public and a very popular picnic spot. People are scared that whoever did this is still on the loose.”