Missing Alice suspect murdered wife in Latvia with ‘no remorse’

Police search outside the home of Latvian builder Arnis Zalkalns, 41, in Castlebar Road in Ealing Broadway

Police search outside the home of Latvian builder Arnis Zalkalns, 41, in Castlebar Road in Ealing Broadway

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A Latvian builder named as the prime suspect in the disappearance of teenager Alice Gross murdered his wife with “no remorse” in 1998, his former mother-in-law has said.

Police are looking for Arnis Zalkalns, 41, who went missing a week after the 14-year-old schoolgirl disappeared on August 28.

He was convicted of bludgeoning and stabbing Rudite Zalkalns to death in Latvia and served seven years in prison, prompting questions over why he was allowed into the UK.

Ms Zalkalns’ mother Viktorija described the suspect as a “control freak with a fierce temper”.

Speaking from her home on the outskirts of Riga, the 70-year-old said: “I’m still angry at the length of his sentence. This was a callous and heartless murder with no remorse. My daughter was trained in karate but she couldn’t fight him off.

“He prepared my daughter’s grave in advance and planted the weapons next to it. Then he tricked her into going with him to a forest.”

Scotland Yard have insisted they have no evidence to suggest Alice, who suffered from anorexia, has come to harm.

Zalkalns became a suspect in her disappearance after he was identified in CCTV footage cycling past the same spot on a canal path in west London where Alice had been seen 15 minutes earlier.

Detectives also revealed that he had been arrested on suspicion of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl in 2009, but no further action was taken.

The general labourer, who works at a building site in Isleworth, west London, is thought to have come to the UK in 2007.

He lives with his partner and their young child in a semi-detached house on a leafy suburban road in Ealing.

Since Zalkalns was last seen on the evening of Wednesday, September 3 he has not accessed his bank account or used his mobile phone. His passport was left at his house.

Police said yesterday that it was their understanding that there was no record in the UK of his murder conviction.

A reward of up to £20,000 is being offered for anyone who has information that leads detectives to find Alice.

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