Three days after Kristelle “Kae” Davantes’ body turned up under a bridge in Silang, Cavite province, all that police have are questions—with no answers.
Davantes’ family, friends and colleagues have given their sworn statements to investigators but the answers to questions like who she was with in her last hours have eluded the police.
Already engaged, Davantes, 25, planned to marry in May next year, according to her family.
She had been an account manager for two years at MRM Manila, a digital marketing agency under McCann Worldgroup Philippines, an advertising firm with offices at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City.
How her body turned up under the bridge in Cavite is part of the mystery.
Investigators have been collecting footage from security cameras and records of Davantes’ final communication, hoping these would give clues as to what happened from the time she and her friends parted ways at Global City on Friday night up to the time her body was found, Silang police chief, Supt. Dario Roxas, said in a phone interview on Tuesday.
Between 1 and 4 a.m.
Based on information from relatives and friends, Roxas said Davantes left the office at 9:30 p.m. on Friday and went out for drinks with friends at BGC until past 1 a.m.
Then she sent a text message to her family in Las Piñas City that she was on her way home.
“What we are looking for is what happened between 1 a.m. and 3 or 4 a.m.,” Roxas said.
He said initial findings of scene of the crime operatives showed that Davantes’ body had been under the Tibagan bridge in Barangay (village) Sabutan for two hours before a resident found it and told the authorities around 6 a.m. on Saturday.
Not professionally done
Roxas said police were collecting footage from security cameras on the road and in some establishments, adding the most plausible way from Taguig to Silang was via the Alabang exit of the South Luzon Expressway.
The car Davantes drove was a Toyota Altis, registered in the name of the victim’s relative Mercedez Ilano. The car remains missing.
Police initially believed that Davantes’ killers were after the vehicle but when asked why she had to end up dead, Roxas said: “That’s also what we are trying to find an answer to.”
“If I were a car thief, I would have also forced her to withdraw some money but all her savings [in the bank] are intact,” he said.
Roxas also doubted that the killer or killers were “professionals,” otherwise “they could have chosen a more concealed place to dump the body—not where there was a house nearby.”
Davantes planned on getting married in May next year, her uncle Vince Davantes said. The police withheld the identity of her boyfriend who, they said, refused to talk to them at this time.
“There are other personal angles that we are looking into,” Roxas said, but declined to say if the police had any person in mind.
“If there were fights [with anyone close to her], we would find out from the messages she had sent,” Roxas said.
The killer or killers also took Davantes’ cell phone. The phone has been dead since the time she went missing.
“We tried calling her cell phone but it was already turned off,” Roxas said. The police did not say how they planned to recover the phone records.
Davantes’ killing has provoked wide public outrage.
At Davantes’ wake at the family home in Moonwalk Village, Las Piñas, on Tuesday, the Inquirer chanced upon Las Piñas police chief Senior Supt. Adolfo Samala and an agent from the National Bureau of Investigation.
Vince Davantes, the victim’s uncle, said the NBI-National Capital Region was making its own inquiries on the case.
He said Samala came as an advance party for the National Capital Region Police Office director, Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo.
The case is still under the jurisdiction of the police in Silang.
What is it about the case that has captured public attention and an outpouring of support for the Davantes family?
Due for promotion
The answer apparently lay in Kae herself. “She was a promising individual with a future,” said the elder Davantes.
At a young age and starting with the company only late in 2011, Kae was already the senior account manager for MRM Manila. She was even up for a promotion, the uncle said.
Her coworker, Budjette Tan, described her on his Facebook account as “one of MRM’s hard-working and passionate account executives.”
“One of my last meetings with her was about an upcoming ‘pitch,’” Tan said. “She said she wanted to personally handle the project because she was determined to win it. Despite all the OT (overtime) we do and all the weekly workload that leaves us with little personal time, she was still excited to work on a new project and win a new account.”
The family did not want the media to take photos of Kae’s coffin.
While the elder Davantes said he felt deeply angry about the crime, he appealed to the public: “Let’s not speculate. Let us leave it to the police. The authorities are already investigating this.”
Along with Kae’s car, a metallic beige Toyota Altis with Plate No. PIM 966, also missing is her handbag, which contains her iPhone and Blackberry.
In her subdivision in Barangay Talon V, Kae was known as good-natured and friendly.
“Even the tanod (watchmen) here knew her. She would sometimes give them coffee,” said barangay chairman Tata Orcine, who keeps watch at Kae’s wake.
Lying in a white coffin, Kae wore a scarf and a rainbow-colored maxi dress—her favorites, according to her sister Liz. “It suits her personality,” Liz said.
Kae was the eldest of three siblings. Her parents, who live in the Middle East, returned to the country on Monday.
Kae’s interment is scheduled on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque City.