When Steven Mendonca got in touch with information about convicted murderer Arnis Zalkans, we knew the papers would be interested in his story.
Hostel boss Steven told us how he came face-to-face with the suspected killer of 14-year-old Alice Gross – who disappeared in August.
Tragically, Alice’s body was found hidden in the River Brent on September 30, almost a month after she went missing from her home in Hanwell. It later emerged that Alice was submerged, wrapped in a black bag and weighted down.
The body of Latvian builder Arnis Zalkalns, the prime suspect in her murder, was found hanging in woodland in Boston Manor Park on October 4.
Steven told us that whilst police were investigating Alice’s disappearance, chillingly, he believes he came into contact with Zalkans. He recalls how he popped outside the homeless hostel where he works in Harlesden, north west London, to make a phone call and he came face-to-face with a man he believes killed Alice.
He tells how Zalkans stared at him ‘like a zombie’ before begging him for help. Zalkans was carrying a heavy, 5-foot long builder’s bag over his shoulders – which Steven now believes contained Alice’s body.
The hostel chief said: “I am convinced it was Alice’s body in that bag. The bag had a huge strap and it was weighing the man down.”
The encounter took place before Zalkans was named as a prime suspect in Alice’s disappearance. He was trying to get into the hostel, just walking distance from where Alice was last seen. The confrontation took place on September 5 – the day after the suspect went missing.
Turning up at the hostel that day, Zalkans begged Steven for help but as there were no rooms available, he was forced to turn him away. Steve added: “He just stood there and had this cold, chilling look about him. He was in a trance. Something about him made me feel uneasy.
“I felt sick when I later read about Alice’s disappearance and also felt quite guilty. If I’d have put two and two together sooner I could have helped police trace her body sooner.”
The meeting was reported to the police after he saw a photograph of Zalkans on the news and immediately recognised him. He said: “What I find incredible is that he managed to walk around for nine days after the murder unnoticed by police.”
We passed on Steven’s story to The Sun and it appeared in today’s paper. If you’ve got information about a person or company or a story that has received a lot of media attention, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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