Probers looking at business deals in hotelier Richard King’s slay
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Police investigators have not zeroed in on any particular motive for the killing of businessman Richard King but are looking at his recent business dealings for clues on his murder.
King, whose company operates the Crown Regency chain of hotels and resorts here, in Cebu City, Boracay and Makati City, was shot dead by a lone gunman inside his office at the Vital C Building here at past 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Probers are now looking at several angles, including the controversies where King was involved in the past.
Among these was his brush with a tribal community in Boracay over the construction of his resort hotels on the island; his 2002 accusation of irregularity against then Cebu Regional Trial Court Judge Agapito Hontanosas for allegedly soliciting P250,000 for a favorable court decision in a suit he filed against couple Nelson and Lucy Go; and his alleged involvement in the smuggling of pseudoephedrine—which led him to file charges against Sun.Star Cebu.
King, a chemical engineer, also publicly accused then Lapu-Lapu Mayor Arturo Radaza in 2007 of extortion, claiming that the attempt was caught on tape.
Radaza fought back, and filed cases of violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Law and grave threats against King and brother Rafael.
Last year, King’s hotel was dragged into the killing of Dexter Condez, spokesperson of the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization who was gunned down on Feb. 22, 2013.
Daniel Celestino, security guard of Crown Regency Resort and Convention Center, was detained and charged with murder after he was identified as the gunman in the killing of Condez.
King had decried reports dragging his hotel into the killing. His company J. King and Sons Co. Inc. is among those with boundary disputes or ownership claims over the land covered by the tribe’s title.
A report released by the Davao City Police Office said that King, 57, was about to take his dinner with some employees past 6 p.m. on Thursday when he was attacked.
The gunman, who did not wear a mask, used a .45-cal. pistol in pumping several bullets on King before fleeing on a motorcycle driven by a cohort.
There was no security guard manning the building, the police said. It was also learned that King had no bodyguard at the time of the incident.
A police investigator described the gunman as about 5’5” tall and of medium built.
The Vital C Building had no security camera either, the investigator said, and they were relying much on information that witnesses had provided.
King, chair and chief executive officer of J. King and Sons Co. Inc., was supposed to preside over a management committee (mancom) meeting in Cebu on Friday morning. The meeting pushed through but without King.
According to Edward Tan, J. King and Sons head of marketing and communications, the mancom was presided over by King’s younger brother, Rafael, who is company president.
The company later issued a statement that King’s five siblings as well as the corporate management team would continue all operations of J. King and Sons Co. Inc. and its affiliate companies following the death of its chairman.
“We enjoin everyone to pray for the repose of the soul of Richard King. We also appeal to all concerned sectors, including the media, to await the investigation result of the case and refrain from hurling malicious lies and accusations about Richard King,” the statement said.
The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) also expressed its condolence to King’s family on his tragic death.
“We believe the police will give this a priority. We recognize his creative concept that is unique in the hotel industry which also created job opportunities,” CCCI said.
Sources told the Inquirer that King’s family members were saddened, shocked and confused over his blatant killing.
King was described as a “visionary” by his employees, to whom he would share his plans for the company.
Tan said they were waiting for the result of the police investigation because they had no idea why someone would want King dead.
He said what he knew was that King flew to Davao City to attend the culmination of a wellness training for Vital C Health Products Inc., also owned by King.
Tan said he last talked to King on Wednesday and was told to see him on Friday during their mancom meeting. But King failed to make it.
King was the eldest of six siblings. He is survived by his wife Katherine and two children—both teenagers. His father, Jesus King, owned several buildings and apartments in Cebu and Manila that were being rented out.
Tan said King came out with a vision to build motels where the rooms would be rented per hour or day unlike apartment units where the rents were paid monthly.
King put up Prince Court in Mandaue City in the mid-1990s. Later, he built another motel, King’s Court, just in front of Prince Court. This started King’s foray into the hospitality business.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.