River of Love distances itself from Dembska murder suspect Abner Aquilina

Christian group River of Love has distanced itself from Abner Aquilina with Pastor Gordon Manche saying that walk-ins occur all the time but the church does not control who visits its premises

Pastor Gordon Manche says murder suspect Abner Aquilina was not part of River of Love
Pastor Gordon Manche says murder suspect Abner Aquilina was not part of River of Love

River of Love has distanced itself from Dembska murder suspect Abner Aquilina, who is currently under medical observation ahead of charges being filed.

“We do not know anything about this man. He was not part of River of Love ever or at any time,” River of Love pastor Gordon Manche told MaltaToday. “New people walk-ins come all the time, and just like every church we don’t control who visits.”

A member of the River of Love community uploaded a photo and several videos with Abner Aquilina on New Year’s Eve, prompting speculation into Aquilina’s involvement with the religious organisation.

Reports also indicate that Aquilina told police the devil manipulated his thoughts when he killed Paulina Dembska, a 29-year-old Polish woman.

"We pray for the victim's family and that things will be done with utmost integrity from every side," Manche said.

Aquilina, a 20-year-old from Żejtun, was taken to Mater Dei Hospital shortly after his arrest for a check-up. He was then referred to Mount Carmel Hospital and will be kept under observation for a mental health assessment. Police have suspended his interrogation.

Dembska was murdered at Sliema’s Independence Garden early on Sunday, 2 January – the first femicide of the year. Her lifeless body was found just below the popular promenade by a passer-by just before 6:30am.

READ ALSO: Dembska murder suspect Abner Aquilina under medical observation ahead of charges

The police said that Dembska was living in a Sliema hostel and was here as a student.

Dembska, a frequent visitor to the gardens where she fed the cat colony, had signs of violence around her head and on her chest. But sources have suggested that she may have been raped.

Aquilina was picked up by police outside the Carmelite parish church in Balluta after raising a commotion inside the church, going up to the altar, overturning chairs and allegedly making threats before some men pulled him out and called the police.

READ ALSO: Women angered by Dembska murder: 'A reminder that misogyny and sexism are still present'