Virginia and Alabama authorities have seized thousands of dollars worth of silver and other items from an apartment and a warehouse where they allegedly been taken by a Greek national accused of killing the daughter of the late diplomat David K. E. Bruce.
The two seizures occurred in the Birmingham area where Marios Michaelides went after the 1975 death of his wife, Alexandra Bruce, the diplomat's daughter at a family estate in Southside Virginia.
Howard P. Smith, manager of the Birmingham warehouse, which was raided last month, said the items police confiscated "were in the process of being shipped to Greece." In May authorities took thousands of dollars worth of silver from a suburban Birmingham apartment that Michaelides rented, police said yesterday. In September, they took furniture, rare books, paintings, bronzes, vases and antiques from crates at the warehouse, police said.
The seizures were the latest twist in a bizarre case in which Michaelides, now living in Athens, Greece, has been indicted in Virginia for murder of Bruce, whom Michaelides had married in August 1975, three months before her death.
The death was first classified a suicide until a private investigation paid for by Bruce family members led to the murder indictment against Michaelides and one indictment each on bigamy and embezzlement charges.
The search warrants, on file at the Jefferson County Court House in Birmingham, include affidavits based on statements by David Bruce, the late ambassador's son, that the confiscated goods were taken by Michaelides and are not his.
Each search warrant contains a long list of items, ranging from an 1839 oil painting by Frenchman Edouard Sweback to $3,000 worth of 18th century vases that the Bruce family claims.
J. Ray Knopf, a Birmingham lawyer who represents Michaelides first wife, released a set of divorce papers from Haiti indicating that Michaelides obtained a divorce from Knopf's client, Mary Lewis Michaelides, on July 25, 1975, shortly before marrying Alexandra Bruce.
Knopf also disclosed the text of a letter Michaelides wrote earlier this month to Edwin B. Baker, the Charlotte County, Va., commonwealth's attorney prosecuting the case, against Michaelides. He has said he is innocent of the murder charge and defended his Haitian divorce as valid.
Michaelides's first wife has been living with him since Alexandra Bruce's death and left for Greece to join him two months ago, Knopf said.
Knopf, who said he was present at both searches, said the confiscated goods had been shipped back to Virginia, but Capt. Hiram Boone of the Virginia State Police investigation division, citing a court gag order, declined to comment yesterday on what had become of the goods.
Mary Lewis Michaelides, reached yesterday in Athens, insisted the goods belong to Michaelides, but said neither she nor he would comment further.
In Michaelides' letter to Baker, released by Knopf, Michaelides said all the seized items had either been given to or bought by him from his late wife and her two brothers, David and Nicholas.