Prosecutors ask for multiple aggravated life sentences for Mehmet Ali Çayıroğlu, a suspect behind eight murders in northern Turkey. An indictment disclosed on Thursday says the 46-year-old former convict was responsible for the deaths of victims in Akkuş, a district of the Black Sea province of Ordu.
Çayıroğlu was running a delicatessen in Akkuş and was detained in 2018 on two separate charges of theft. An investigation found he was connected to the deaths of 12 people in Ordu and Samsun, another Black Sea province. He was subsequently arrested, while a separate investigation is underway for murders he is allegedly involved in Samsun and Ünye, another district of Ordu.
The suspect is accused of killing his victims by gunfire, poisoning or setting their houses on fire. Prosecutors also ask prison terms of up to 60 years on robbery charges for Çayıroğlu. The indictment says the suspect came into contact with his victims, mostly elderly people living alone, as a customer seeking to buy their cattle for his shop. He is accused of stealing the cattle and personal possessions of victims after each murder. A search of a house in a remote part of Ordu discovered stolen cattle, along with three shotguns, cellphones and other items stolen from victims.
Prosecutors examining a security camera he set up in his house discovered Çayıroğlu left home in camouflage clothing at midnight and returned early in the morning, in dates and hours corresponding to the hours of five murders. Photos of some victims were found on his cellphone.
According to the indictment, Çayıroğlu picked elderly and lonely people as his targets and took their photos before killing them. He would “bargain” with victims intent on selling cattle to him and would later visit them wearing camouflage clothing. Some victims were restrained with plastic handcuffs before being poisoned with gas, and their houses were burned down by Çayıroğlu. Most murders took place between February and July 2018. Investigators had discovered that the suspect had spoken on the phone with a couple found burned to death in their home, while personal possessions of Hasan Bayram, another victim who died of gas poisoning at his home, was found in Çayıroğlu’s house. Another cellphone and a gun belonging to an elderly couple who were found dead of poisoning from a gas leak in their home were also found in the suspect’s possession.