A teenage girl was murdered by her kidnapper in Romania after police took 19 hours to search the house where she was being held despite her repeated emergency calls, her family say.
Alexandra Macesanu was abducted on Wednesday but managed to call emergency services three times to tell them she had been beaten and raped by a man who picked her up in his car.
The 15-year-old girl, who had been hitchhiking home from the nearby southern town of Caracal, gave officers details of where she was being held but they did not carry out a search for 19 hours.
According to Romania’s police chief Ioan Buda, Alexandra shouted “he’s coming, he’s coming” in one of the calls before it disconnected, BBC reports.
Mr Buda said two county officials had since been fired over their handling of the case.
Officials say they initially found it difficult to trace where the teenager called from, but finally identified the house they believe she was held in at 3am on Friday, local media reports.
Despite not requiring one by law, police then applied for a warrant and did not search the property for another 19 hours.
Human remains and jewellery were found.
Detectives suspect the remains belong to Alexandra and to an 18-year-old girl who was reported missing from a nearby village in April, but forensics analysts have yet to confirm their identity.
On Saturday, suspect Gheorghe Dinca, a 65-year-old mechanic, was detained for 30 days pending a criminal investigation.
The case has caused widespread outrage in Romania, where thousands marched in protest against authorities’ slow response on Saturday.
Chanting anti-government slogans and carrying Romanian flags, the protesters marched from Victoria Palace, the government headquarters, to Revolution Square, where they lit candles outside the Interior Ministry.
Some chanted “resignation”, “corruption kills” and “down with the government” during the march, while also taunting police officers with shouts of “hide, your hands are stained with blood”.
The country’s prime minister, Viorica Dancila, announced on Saturday that she was considering a referendum on harsher penalties for crimes such as murder, rape and paedophilia in the wake of Alexandra’s killing.
Agencies contributed to this report.