It was a mystery that began to unravel thanks to a small piece of paper—a McDonald’s receipt which the dead Julie Ann ‘’Jaja’’ Rodelas held in her left hand.
“That receipt was our first clue to solving the puzzle,” said Chief Insp. Rodelio Marcelo, head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit of the Quezon City Police District, following the killing of one suspect and the arrest of four more in connection with the death of Rodelas, 20, a part-time model who was shot dead and dumped on a street in Cubao on Nov. 6.
First to be arrested at 6 p.m. Saturday were fellow model Althea Altamirano and her boyfriend Fernando Quiambao Jr., whose black Mitsubishi Montero was used in Rodelas’ abduction in Pasay City hours before she was killed.
The other suspects were cornered in a gunfight in a Quezon City neighborhood in the wee hours of Sunday.
Altamirano’s name earlier cropped up as the person who reported to the Pasay police that Rodelas was abducted. In a blotter entry, she said she and Rodelas were walking along Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard past midnight Tuesday near the World Trade Center when two men grabbed the victim and forced her into their vehicle.
Cheeseburgers to go
In a press conference on Sunday, QCPD director Chief Superintendent Mario dela Vega said Altamirano and Quiambao were arrested in an operation led by Inspector Elmer Monsalve at the Quiambao ancestral home in Apalit, Pampanga.
The hunt led to Quiambao mainly because of the fast-food receipt, which was issued by a McDonald’s United Nations Avenue branch in Manila and time-stamped at 2:33 a.m. of Nov. 6, or two hours after the abduction. Marcelo said security camera footage from the restaurant showed Quiambao buying two cheeseburger meals at that time.
Police later verified that Quiambao was Altamirano’s boyfriend based on the accounts of her relatives and neighbors who often saw the man bringing her to her Cavite home.
Dela Vega noted that based on Altamirano’s statements to the media, Quiambao was the one who suggested “teaching Rodelas a lesson” for telling people that Altamirano had kids, something that purportedly brought down her commercial appeal as a model. (See related story on this page.)
“As of now, we are seeing deep grudge as a motive. After all, it was Althea who gave Jaja (Julie’s nickname) Rodelas her break in the modelling business and the victim allegedly spread rumors,” the police official said.
Policemen said the Montero allegedly used in the abduction was also found in Apalit, Pampanga, when the couple was arrested. The vehicle was registered in the name of Quiambao’s mother.
Around past midnight on Sunday, Quiambao accompanied members of the CIDU and Cubao police station to a neighborhood in Barangay Culiat where his alleged cohorts were hiding.
But the policemen were met with gunfire upon arriving in the area. The ensuing shootout killed Bob Usman and ended with the arrest of Jaymar Waradge and Gelan Pasewilan, who each yielded a 9-mm pistol.
Police said they are still hunting down two more suspects.
According to Marcelo, Waradge pointed to Quiambao as the one who drove the Montero after Rodelas’ abduction until she was shot dead and her body was dumped around 5 a.m. of Nov. 6 on 18th Avenue in Murphy, Cubao.
“Waradge claimed that Quiambao was still with them when they brought Jaja from a safehouse in Culiat until she was killed in Cubao,” Marcelo said.
Quiambao reportedly became friends with the other suspects from the Culiat compound where he was often seen bringing expensive liquor to share with his pals.
“He was a regular visitor there. He was some kind of a VIP there, a boss who gets very special treatment,” Dela Vega said.