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Couple found dead in Sta. Mesa house

By Tina Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:06:00 06/05/2008

Filed Under: Crime, Law & Justice,Local authorities

MANILA, Philippines ? Manila policemen are looking into the possibility that the case of a couple found dead inside their house in Sta. Mesa Wednesday morning was a crime of passion.

Chief Insp. Dominador Arevalo, head of the Manila Police District homicide division, said they suspect that Benjie Mallen, 33, a pharmacist at the Bureau of Food and Drugs could have shot his wife, Sunshine, also 33, a lawyer with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) before turning his gun on himself.

Sunshine had two gunshot wounds, including one in the forehead, while her husband had been shot in the temple, police said, adding that they recovered a 9 mm caliber firearm, a magazine plus spent and live bullets at the crime scene.

According to Arevalo, they have already ruled out a work-related angle as the motive for the shooting.

?This had nothing to do with the nature of the couple?s jobs. Maybe it was an internal or domestic problem,? he said, adding that there were no signs of forcible entry in the victims? house.

Still, the victims? relatives and household helpers who were staying with the couple and were at home when the incident happened will be subjected to paraffin and lie detector tests.

The incident happened between 4 and 4:30 a.m. at the couple?s house in Bacood, Sta. Mesa.

Barangay Chair Marlyn Ajesta said they were on patrol duty in the area when they heard two successive gunshots, followed by cries for help from the couple?s relatives.
PO3 Jay Santos said in his report that Sunshine was sleeping in the living room with her brother, Lex Mortel, and two housemaids minutes before she was killed.

Mortel told investigators that he was suddenly awakened by successive gunshots.
When he turned on the lights, he saw the bodies of his sister and brother-in-law lying in a pool of blood. Sunshine was on top of a mattress while Benjie was sprawled on the floor, Mortel added.
The gun reportedly used in the shooting was recovered near his body, police said.

An initial investigation showed that just before the incident, the couple had a misunderstanding over a still undetermined reason. Witnesses said the two were unusually quiet and had been sleeping separately since Tuesday.



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