By Humphrey Carter
PALMA

THE Guardia Civil murder squad believe they are closing in on the possible killer of 25-year-old Ana Niculai whose charred body was found in the boot of her boyfriend's burnt out Audi A4 near Muro on Monday night with her hands tied behind her back.

The Guardia Civil and the National Police have joined forces in the hunt for a Palma prisoner who failed to return to jail on Monday after the weekend and attending a social rehabilitation session.

According to sources close to the case, a search and arrest warrant had already been issued for the missing prisoner after he failed to return to jail but yesterday the security services significantly stepped up their efforts to track the fugitive down in order to question him about the brutal murder of the young Romanian woman. Investigators are continuing to trawl through hours of video images taken by CCTV and traffic cameras at petrol stations and along the roads in the area around where the burnt out vehicle was found and last night, murder squad sources said that all lines of investigation “remain open”.

Both the victim and her boyfriend have lived in Majorca for a number of years and on Monday Ana was driving her partner's Audi because her vehicle was being repaired.

The autopsy revealed that the victim was dead before the car was torched and one of the lines of investigation is that Ana was killed in the underground car park where she kept her car near the bar she ran with a business partner in Calle Socorro in Palma. Police suspect that Ana was either the victim of a robbery that went wrong with the attacker after a vehicle and money to flee the capital or the victim of an attempted sexual assault. The police know that her death was a violent one.

The fugitive is serving time in Palma prison for various offenses, including sexual crimes, and is thought to have been hiding out in the Muro area since Monday, according to sources close to the case.

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