MISSING CHILDREN

Body of Olivia, one of the missing sisters kidnapped by their father, located in Tenerife

The six-year-old was found at the bottom of the sea in a bag, weighed down by the anchor from Tomás Gimeno’s boat

Olivia and Anna, the missing sisters who were kidnapped by their father on April 27 in Tenerife.
Olivia and Anna, the missing sisters who were kidnapped by their father on April 27 in Tenerife.SOS Desaparecidos

Search teams on Thursday located the body of Olivia Gimeno Zimmermann, a six-year-old girl who went missing on April 27 together with her one-year-old sister Anna.

The Canary Islands High Court and the Civil Guard confirmed the news yesterday, and reported that the body had been found on the sea bed in a bag, and weighed down by the anchor of her father’s boat.

The vessel belonging to Tomás Gimeno, 37, was found drifting on the day after the disappearance of the three family members. The grim news was conveyed on Thursday to the mother and the relatives of the little girls. The search for the bodies of Anna and Tomás Gimeno is ongoing.

Gimeno, 37, is believed to have taken the two little girls – Anna, one, and Olivia, six – on his boat, which was later found by the police off the east coast of Tenerife, in Spain’s Canary Islands. Traces of the father’s blood were located on board. A child safety car seat was also found floating in the sea, and the Civil Guard has confirmed that it belonged to Anna.

The children were visiting Gimeno, who reportedly told his ex-partner in a telephone conversation that night that she would never see the children again, but that he would take good care of them. Investigators are following up on the theory that Gimeno was aided by one or more individuals to carry out a premeditated plan to kidnap his own daughters, according to sources cited by the news agency Efe.

Next to the sports bag in which Olivia was found, there was another bag, which was empty

Specialized air and sea units are participating in the search operation. The Ángeles Alvariño, a research ship from the Spanish Oceanographic Institute (IEO) equipped with a sonar system and a remotely operated underwater vehicle, joined the search on May 30. This vessel located an oxygen bottle and duvet cover belonging to Gimeno on Monday of this week, and also found the body of Olivia on Thursday. The remotely operated vehicle made the discovery at around 1,000 meters below the surface, and three miles off the Tenerife coast.

Next to the sports bag in which Olivia was found, there was another bag, which was empty.

Civil Guard director María Gámez said on Tuesday that the search effort is “complex” due to the size of the area that’s being inspected. The objects found on Monday were also located at a depth of around 1,000 meters, requiring specialized equipment from the IEO.

On April 27, at around 5pm, Tomás Gimeno went over to the home of his former partner, Beatriz Zimmerman, 35, with whom he had reached an informal agreement on visitation rights. He picked up Anna, then collected Olivia from an after-school German learning center. He took both to his own house in the municipality of Igueste de Candelaria. Zimmermann later showed up to take the girls home, but nobody opened the door, according to the police report. When she phoned her ex, he said that he’d gone out to dinner with his daughters and that he’d drive them home later.

The ‘Ángeles Alvariño’ during the search operation.
The ‘Ángeles Alvariño’ during the search operation.Miguel Barreto / EFE

At around 7.30pm, Gimeno was seen at the local marina, but neither the cameras nor the security guard detected the children’s presence. Gimeno loaded suitcases and bags on his boat, making three trips from his parked white Audi A3 to his berthed vessel. When he returned from his short sailing trip, a Civil Guard patrol stopped him for violating the coronavirus curfew and filed a report. A little after midnight, Gimeno drove out to the marina again, where he sailed away one last time. The following day the empty vessel was found drifting away without having dropped anchor off the municipality of Puertito de Güímar. The child car seat was found a little later.

Gimeno had five telephone conversations with Zimmermann on the night of his disappearance. According to the crime report filed by the latter, she called him at 9pm to see why he was not home with the girls, and he said they had gone out to dinner. One hour later, during a second call, he told her she would never see the children again. He delivered the same message at 10.30pm, and again 10 minutes later. At 11.45pm the phone appeared to be turned off or without reception. There was one last conversation at around 1.30am.

The next day, Zimmermann told officers that Gimeno’s parents said their son had visited them with the children on the day of their disappearance, and that he used terms that “sounded like a farewell.” Friends of the missing man reported having similar conversations with him.

English version by Simon Hunter and Susana Urra.

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