Tarlac cops start retracing steps of missing couple

Tarlac cops start retracing steps of missing couple

Pampanga beauty pageant bet, Israeli boyfriend last seen after checking agri land in Tarlac City; vehicle they used found burning in Capas
/ 04:40 AM June 26, 2024

TORCHED The vehicle used by beauty pageant candidate Geneva Lopez and her Israeli boyfriend Yitchak Cohen before they went missing is found burned along Cojuangco Road in Capas, Tarlac, on Saturday. The vehicle has been cordoned off, as shown in this photo taken on Monday, after investigators processed the site. —GAB RAZON/CONTRIBUTOR

TORCHED The vehicle used by beauty pageant candidate Geneva Lopez and her Israeli boyfriend, Yitchak Cohen, before they went missing is found burned along Cojuangco Road in Capas, Tarlac, on Saturday. The vehicle has been cordoned off, as shown in this photo taken on Monday, after investigators processed the site. —Gab Razon/contributor

ANGELES CITY, PAMPANGA, Philippines — Investigators have started retracing the movement of a Pampanga beauty pageant candidate and her Israeli boyfriend and looking for people that they had met before they were reported missing on Friday.

Geneva Lopez, a Mutya ng Pilipinas Pampanga 2024 candidate, and her boyfriend, Yitchak Cohen, met with someone in Tarlac province to inspect a 20.5-hectare agricultural land that they intended to buy, Lt. Col. Librado Manarang, Capas police chief, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

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Manarang said a middleman told police that he met with the couple in the town around 2 p.m. on Friday, the day they were last seen.

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READ: Mutya ng Pilipinas Pampanga bet, Israeli BF reported missing

“The middleman said in his sworn statement that he met with Ms Geneva Lopez and Mr. Yitchak Cohen in front of a gas station at [Barangay] Cristo Rey here in Capas. From there, they proceeded to Barangay Armenia in Tarlac City, where the two large parcels [that they] want to buy [are] located,” he told the Inquirer.

Clues

One property, Manarang said, is a 12.5-ha land while the other parcel is 8 ha.

“The middleman said that after [Lopez and Cohen] made an ocular inspection of the properties, that was around 4 p.m., they parted ways on board their respective vehicles,” he said.

Family and friends lost contact with Lopez, 27, and her boyfriend Cohen, 37, since they left for Capas late in the afternoon on June 21.

The gray Nissan Terra sport utility vehicle (SUV) used by the couple was found burning along the Capas-San Jose Road in Cristo Rey village at 2:36 a.m. on Saturday.

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Senior Insp. Rustico Tayag Jr., the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) chief in Capas, told the Inquirer in a separate interview that their hotline received a call about the burning vehicle and responded immediately. He said firefighters arrived at the scene at 2:43 a.m. and were able to put out the fire after about 10 minutes.

Inside the SUV, fire and police investigators found a partially burned automated teller machine (ATM) card belonging to Lopez, a 1×1 photo of her, and partially burned real estate documents. The ATM card and the documents had Lopez’s name.

The Capas police contacted Lopez’s family the next day and asked them to verify if she was the person in the photo found in the burned vehicle. The family went to Capas and positively identified her.

Tayag said they sought the help of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to verify the owner of the vehicle and discovered that it was owned by another person, not the couple.

HAVE YOU SEEN THEM? Relatives of Geneva Lopez, a Mutya ng Pilipinas Pampanga 2024 candidate, and her boyfriend, Yitchak Cohen, have continued to appeal for public help in finding them. They were last seen in Tarlac province on Friday after inspecting an agricultural land that they were intending to buy. —PHOTO FROMPRESY CARREON LOPEZ FACEBOOK

HAVE YOU SEEN THEM? Relatives of Geneva Lopez, a Mutya ng Pilipinas Pampanga 2024 candidate, and her boyfriend, Yitchak Cohen, have continued to appeal for public help in finding them. They were last seen in Tarlac province on Friday after inspecting an agricultural land that they were intending to buy. —photo from Presy Carreon Lopez Facebook

“Actually, the owner of the Nissan Terra, who is from Bulacan, told us that he will come to the municipal police office today (Tuesday) to shed light on why [Ms Lopez] and Mr. Cohen were using his SUV,” he said.

Maj. Vicky Tamayo, Angeles City Police Station 4 commander, told the Inquirer on Tuesday that the vehicle was pawned to the missing couple.

“It was the vehicle that they used when they left [Barangay] Malabanias here in Angeles City at 1:20 p.m. on June 21 to go to Capas, Tarlac,” Manarang said.

‘Backtracking’

He said they were conducting “backtracking” and checking all security cameras along the road to and from the place where the SUV was found burning.

“We want to find out how the vehicle entered our town, how it went out on its way to Armenia in Tarlac City, and how it came back to where it was before it [was found burning],” the Capas police chief said.

As part of the BFP’s separate investigation, Tayag said they already collected debris and samples from the burnt SUV, which were sent to the BFP’s national headquarters for laboratory testing.

He said the test result would show if the vehicle was intentionally burned.

On Monday, the Mutya ng Pilipinas Pampanga appealed to the public through its Facebook page to help in finding Lopez.

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“We enjoin the public to assist us in any information that might lead to the resolution of this case. Let’s continue to hope and pray for her safety as well as that of her Israeli boyfriend, her companion, on the day she went missing,” it said.

TAGS: missing, Pampanga

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