A gay man’s determination to find the killer of his boyfriend paid off after the suspect was arrested by Pasig policemen on Sunday, four days after the victim was found dead.
John Patrix Lebuna, 21, was picked up by authorities inside a fast-food restaurant on Aurora Boulevard in Quezon City for his alleged involvement in the killing of Leo Catanghal, 32, a timekeeper at a construction site on Jefferson Street, Barangay (village) Maybunga, Pasig City.
Catanghal’s body was found at the site by a painter on Dec. 5, said Senior Supt. Mario Rariza, city police chief.
An electrical wire was wrapped around his neck while his mouth had been taped shut with masking tape.
Nelson Peralta, the victim’s boyfriend, had told investigators that Catanghal’s cell phone with its SIM card, his wallet, a pouch and a tablet computer were missing.
Police said a witness had reported that he saw the victim talking to an unidentified man the night before.
According to Senior Insp. Rodrigo de Dios, investigation chief, the arrest was made possible with the help of Peralta who managed to get the cell phone contact number of the last person who texted his boyfriend.
This was after Peralta asked for help on Dec. 7 from a telecom network whose personnel gave him the number out of pity.
Peralta first tried calling the number but there was only ringing at the other end, De Dios said.
“Then on Dec. 8, the person using the number, Lebuna, answered the call,” he added.
Rariza said Peralta, who pretended to be a girl, befriended Lebuna who later confided that he wanted to sell a tablet computer, De Dios said.
This prompted Peralta to arrange a meeting with his new “text mate” at a fast-food restaurant in Quezon City. He later went to the police to ask for their help.
Upon Lebuna’s arrest, De Dios said authorities found in his possession a tablet computer that Peralta positively identified as Catanghal’s as well as his boyfriend’s missing pouch.
The police official added that they found in the tablet pictures of Peralta and Catanghal.
Lebuna was also positively identified by the witness as the person he had seen talking to the victim shortly before the latter was found dead.
“(Lebuna) has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing but the evidence is strong against him,” De Dios said.