Woman Flees Country After Lying About Mall Shooting, Police Say

Maria-Eleni Eleftheriadou and her fiance hopped a flight to Greece after lying about where shooting took place, police said.

A woman who claimed to be shot in the chest with a pellet-type of gun outside the Garden State Plaza has fled the country as authorities have determined the 23-year-old was wounded somewhere else.

Maria-Eleni Eleftheriadou has been charged with filing a false police report, but remains at-large after hopping an overnight flight Thursday with her fiance to her native Greece, family members told police. 

Eleftheriadou received treatment Tuesday for an injury that was possibly consistent with a pellet-gun or firearm wound at Hackensack University Medical Center when she informed police she had been shot in the parking lot of the Garden State Plaza, police said.

“Detectives had worked throughout New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses,” Paramus Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said. “Numerous inconsistencies began to develop in the case between the report and the evidence collected.”

Paramus detectives arrived Thursday at a Ridgefield Park home of George Mihalakis, where Eleftheriadou was staying with her fiance, for a pre-scheduled follow-up interview. The detectives were informed that Eleftheriadou and her fiance had caught an overnight flight to Greece, police said.

According to Ehrenberg, police were able to confirm through customs officials that Eleftheriadou and her fiance did flee the country via an overnight flight.

Paramus police said they were able to confirm that the woman had been shot, but not at the Garden State Plaza as Eleftheriadou initially claimed.

“As police continued to investigate, they were able to determine that Eleftheriadou had been shot in the chest by a small-caliber firearm but that the shooting had occurred in location other than the Westfield Garden State Plaza and the Borough of Paramus,” Ehrenberg said.

Police declined to comment where they believe the shooting may have occurred nor would they speculate on the exact type or caliber of firearm used because of the ongoing investigation.

Mihalkis was charged with filing a false police report and released without bail. Charges against Eleftheriadou and her fiance are pending and will be served upon a return to the United States.

Police ask anyone with additional information to contact the Paramus Police Department at 201-262-3400 ext. 553.


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