Forensic workers have unearthed the remains of multiple victims from a grisly crime scene in El Salvador, digging up more bodies from a pit at the home of an ex-police officer suspected of murdering and burying potentially dozens of women.
Authorities on Friday confirmed eight bodies have been removed from under the house of former officer Hugo Ernesto Osorio, a convicted rapist who prosecutors have formally charged with the killing of two women and two men earlier this month.
Sexual violence is the leading theory for the killings, according to prosecutors.
Authorities also point to the possibility of a wider conspiracy as 10 others have been charged with murdering nine women in presumably related homicides, along with four other murders of victims whose bodies have turned up in the same small house,.
The house was ringed by heavily-armed soldiers and police on Friday as dozens of relatives of missing people gathered nearby, many wondering if they might be able to identify the victims.
The final body count from Osorio's property, in the town of Chalchuapa, remains unclear.
Fears the number of victims might jump were stoked this week when a forensic detective told reporters that two dozen bodies had been dug up at the crime scene, and as many as 40 might be ultimately be recovered.
Attorney-General Rodolfo Delgado said the detective would be sanctioned for providing unreliable information.
Osorio, meanwhile, is being held in maximum security prison where he is also considered a witness who can shed light on other crimes.
El Salvador's national police say Osorio was removed from the force 15 years ago after he was found guilty of raping a woman as well as unlawful sex with a minor, crimes for which he was sentenced to five years behind bars.