5 dead in ‘Baguio Massacre’
Baguio City — Five people, including three children, were stabbed dead Sunday afternoon inside a rented apartment located on the fourth floor of a building that also serves as a market place in Kayang Hilltop, Baguio City.
The victims were rushed to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (NGHMC) where they were declared dead on arrival by Dr. Laoagan Rajiv.
Police identified the victims as siblings Jacqueline Kale Marquez Nociete, 19, and Joey Nociete, 9; housemaid Jonalyn Lozano, 32; and two playmates of Joey – Dave de Guzman, 7, and Raymundo del Mundo, 8.
Jacqueline, a student, sustained 18 stab wounds; Joey was stabbed 14 times; Lozano 12 times; De Guzman eight times; and Del Mundo five times.
At yesterday’s press conference, Senior Superintendent Rolando Miranda, Baguio City police chief, identified the suspect as Philip Tolentino Avino a.k.a. “Michael Geronimo,” between 31 and 33 years old, a market porter, originally from Sta. Mesa, Manila.
Tolentino is a former live-in partner of a waitress employed by the Nociete family, said Miranda.
The waitress, who requested that she not be named, identified the suspect through the bloodied short pants and belt he left at the crime scene.
She said that the belt was a gift from her. She added they broke up only last Friday.
Miranda said a manhunt is under way. He believes that the suspect has fled to Cubao in Quezon City.
It was the worst recorded crime in the city, according to Public Information Officer Senior Superintendent Andrew Cayad.
“The last time a gruesome crime happened here was in 2008 when a man killed three people after a quarrel with his girlfriend,” said Cayad.
There was no sign of forced entry, according to Police Senior Inspector Angeline Amangan of the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO).
Amangan said the bodies were already rushed to the hospital when they arrived at the crime scene. She said there were signs of struggle. The murder weapon was not recovered.
Although police have not ruled out other motives in the crime like robbery, Amangan said some valuables were left behind, including a computer tablet.
The crime could have been committed between 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., said police.
A witness, Mae Dumpit Fernandez, who lives on the fifth floor, said she saw a man knocking at the unit of the victims around 3:30 p.m.
Fernandez described the man as five-foot-three, slim, of dark complexion, and wearing a green sweat shirt and black short pants.
She thought the man was just visiting.
Vilma Marquez Nociete, mother of the two victims, said she received several text messages around 5 p.m. from her daughter telling her that somebody was looking for her husband, who owns an eatery at the same compound.
Mrs. Nociete said she went to the apartment they rented only a week ago at 6:30 p.m. She said she knocked several times and tried to call her children to open the door.
She then asked for a duplicate key from Fernandez.
When they opened the door, Mrs. Nociete saw the bodies lying in the pool of their own blood.
It is possible that the commotion would have been drowned by the noise from the market, according to Cayad.
The police official said the other unit located on the same floor was not occupied. “The building does not have security,” Cayad said.
The bodies were taken to Funeraria Paz. Yesterday, relatives of the two late siblings were taken to Naguillian, La Union.
Miranda said a total of P100,000 has so far been offered by local authorities for the arrest of the suspect. (With a report from Aaron B. Recuenco)