Daughter’s remains discovered a day after father’s prayers in Holy Land pilgrimage

Miguela XUereb

The father of Charlene Farrugia recounted that her remains were discovered the day after he prayed for such a breakthrough on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land as the compilation of evidence against her alleged murderer continued on Wednesday.

John Farrugia had reported his daughter missing on November 2008. But while police investigations led them to identify potential suspects, no tangible progress was made until last year, when John Paul Charles Woods was arrested over a Gżira convenience store hold-up.

Woods ended up receiving a 7-year jail term over the hold-up. But he also led police to a location in the bastions outside Valletta where Farrugia’s remains were found.

Earlier this month, the police decided that there was enough evidence to arraign Woods, who was accused of murdering Farrugia, holding her against her will, hiding her body and carrying a bladed weapon without a licence.

The compilation of evidence started on Monday, and Magistrate Marseann Farrugia heard that during questioning, Woods sought to pin the murder on Jesmond Cassar, known as “it-Tito,” though he acknowledged hiding the remains. But the police deemed his version of events to be contradictory.

At the time, Cassar was in a relationship with Abigail Attard, whose brother Jonathan was in a relationship with Farrugia. Testifying via videoconferencing, Farrugia’s father told the court that he was aware of his daughter’s relationship, and that he also knew about Attard’s sister. However, he had never heard of Cassar – who police had suspected of being involved in the murder back in 2008 – until he reported his daughter missing.

Farrugia recounted how he and his wife searched tirelessly for their daughter when she went missing. He found out that she was last seen in a Qawra convenience store, but her car could not be found.

Footage from Valletta’s CVA system showed that the car had entered Valletta on the day the murder is believed to have taken place – 6 November, 2008 – after the estimated time of murder. It was also found to have entered Valletta a few days later, but there was no record of the car being driven back out of the capital.

Farrugia also testified that his wife’s health took a turn for the worse in the wake of their daughter’s disappearance.