UPDATED: John Paul Woods pleads not guilty to murdering Charlene Farrugia 12 years ago and hiding her body

Almost 12 years have passed since the disappearance of Charlene Farrugia and a year since the remains of her body were found in the entrance to the Valletta Bastion with the Police arraigning in Court John Paul Woods and charging him with the murder of young woman and that of having concealed her body. Woods entered a plea of not guilty and was detained under arrest in prison where he is serving a sentence for theft.

Twelve years ago 25-year-old Charlene Farrugia from St Paul’s Bay disappeared and today Police arraigned Woods, born in England, and charged him with her murder. Woods, who is 40 years old, appeared before Magistrate Audrey Demicoli and entered a plea of not guilty to the accusations presented against him, including that of detaining the young woman against her will, of causing her death and of concealing her body. He was also accused of having received stolen goods, of being in possession of a cutting instrument and of being a repeat offender. Woods responded as not being guilty and was detained in prison where he is serving a seven year sentence after admitting, to among other accusations, having tried to commit a hold-up in a Gzira retail outlet.

Court proceedings were held in the presence of the victim’s sister Naomi who requested that no pictures of her be published as she is trying to rebuild her life from the trauma of her sister’s disappearance. She said she hoped this development will bring the case to a closure. She said that she had lived in the hope her sister was still alive and a number of times thought she had seen her sister among a crowd. Naomi said all that is required now is that justice will proceed for what her sister had suffered and the trauma her family has gone through. She hoped her sister’s remains will soon be released by the authorities for a proper burial.

Police explained to the media that a breakthrough in the case had taken place on 20th July last year. On that day Police officials from the Homicide and Forensic Units had elevated human remains, including a skull and body parts of hands and legs at the entrance to the Valletta Bastions, below the Phoenicia Hotel. At the time the Police said they had detained a man suspected of having carried out the murder.

John Paul Woods had been arrested a few days earlier after an armed hold-up in a Gżira retail outlet. While in Police custody, Woods had indicated the presence of human remains and spoke of the disappearance of Charlene Farrugia, alleging he had murdered her. Police said DNA tests on the remains concluded the remains were those of Charlene Farrugia who had been reported missing in November of 2008. Asked if the Police considered the case had come to a closure, the reply was that investigations are still ongoing and it is not excluded that other persons may have been involved.


39-year-old John Paul Woods has been arraigned in court and charged with the murder of Charlene Farrugia who went missing 12 years ago. He was also charged with hiding the body. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. Woods was also charged with having, in November 2008, detained Farrugia against her will, received stolen goods, been in possession of a knife and becoming a relapser.

The alleged murderer of Charlene Farrugia, who was reported missing 12 years ago, was arraigned in Court, Magistrate Audrey Demicoli presiding. Accused was not granted bail.

Police Superintendent Ramon Cassar, Inspectors James Grech from the Criminal Investigation Unit and Jonathan Ransley from the Sliema Police Station and the Spokesperson for the Police, Brandon Pisani, addressed a media conference this morning. They said that the alleged killer will be arraigned and be charged with Farrugia’s murder and with hiding her body.

They added that over the years, the Police interrogated various persons, and on 20 July 2019 there was a development in the case. Officers from the Homicide and Forensics squad elevated human remains including a human skull and parts of a hand and leg from a recess in the Valletta bastions located underneath the Phoenicia hotel. On that day the Police said it was holding a man who was a suspect in the murder.

The man, John Paul Woods who was born in England, was arrested during an attempted hold-up, armed with a knife, of a shop in Gzira. While he was in police custody, Woods spoke about the disappearance of Charlene Farrugia and told them that he had killed her and indicated where her remains could be found.

Farrugia was 25 years old when she was reported missing on 7 November 2008. She used to work as a carer at Dar tal-Providenza and lived in St Pauls’ Bay in an apartment which the Police are including in their investigations.

John Paul Woods is presently serving a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty a year ago to trying to rob the shop in Gzira and to holding four people against their will, to violently resisting members of the Police force, to carrying a knife and to the breaching of Court conditions on two sentences while he was still under probation.

DNA tests on the human remains proved that they were those of Charlene Farrugia. Preliminary investigations on the bones had already shown that they belonged to a woman aged between 20 – 30 years of age.

See also:

DNA tests confirm that the human remains found in Valletta belong to Charlene Farrugia