Robbery motive in murder of Cebu slay victim, suspect killed in Bohol
Robbery was the motive in the killing of 17-year-old student Karen Kaye Montebon, who let a drug-user into the house because he accompanied a close family friend whom she trusted.
Lapu-Lapu police said the suspect, 23-year-old Ruben “Gorio” Fernandez, took the student’s digital single-lens reflex or DSLR camera and pawned it for P5,000 to buy shabu, which he used soon after the attack in Lapu-Lapu City.
The camera was recovered by police, along with earrings, a necklace, and other electronic gadgets of the college student.
In a bizarre twist, Fernandez was gunned down Tuesday afternoon in an islet of Getafe, Bohol province shortly before Lapu-Lapu policemen arrived in two pump boats with orders to arrest him.
Police said they heard gunshots fired before the boats reached the shore past 5 p.m. and that Getafe police who were alerted about their arrival met them.
“We don’t know who killed him. This is still being investigated,” said Senior Supt. Armando Radoc, Lapu-Lapu police chief in a press conference.
The mystery of Montebon’s death set off waves of indignation in the community after the teenager was found strangled in her bedroom on Sept. 15 in the gated neighborhood of Corinthian Subidivison in Lapu-Lapu City.
She was last seen alive by her parents and sister at 6 a.m. when they left the house for work and school appointments.
Radoc on Tuesday said the suspect’s live-in girlfriend was in police custody and was cooperating with the investigation.
He said Jenalyn Soon, 25, a resident of Barangay (village) San Vicente in Olango Island, Lapu-Lapu, insisted that she had no hand in the violence and wasn’t aware her boyfriend had harmed Montebon.
She provided police with a photo of Fernandez.
Soon confirmed that she visited Montebon in the morning of Sept. 15 with Fernandez who was driving a motorbike.
They were let inside the house because Soon was a close family friend.
Her sister in Hawaii would usually send money home through Karen’s mother, Emelinda, who was an active member in church, the Mactan Cathedral of Peace.
Soon reportedly dropped in to check if funds had arrived from abroad.
However, in Soon’s initial account to police, she left the subdivsion together with her boyfriend.
Soon said she was dropped off outside the private village by Fernandez who told her the motorbike was running low on fuel and that he had to gas up.
Radoc said the breakthrough in the case came with a call from Hawaii last Monday at 11 a.m.
The caller was Rosalyn Hummel, Soon’s sister, who is married to an American in Hawaii. She said her younger sibling needed police assistance.
Through the sister, Radoc came to know about Soon’s presence at the Montebon residence on the day of the crime.
“Nagkinataw-anay pa daw sila sa sulod sa balay,” said Radoc.
(They were even laughing with each other inside the house.)
Soon told police she was surprised when her boyfriend no longer fetched her after dropping her off in Sitio (sub-village) Mahayahay, Barangay Bangkal. After waiting, she said she went to a friend in Barangay Marigondon.
Unknown to her, she said, Fernandez went back to go Montebon’s house for a final visit.
When her boyfriend showed up about 1 p.m., Soon said he was bringing a bag with a camera and other gadgets inside.
Police were told the bag contained Karen’s stolen camera, iPad mini, a portable playstation or PSP, and jewelry.
Police said they recovered Fernandez’s motorbike in Lapu-Lapu City and will be evaluating Soon as a witness in the case.
Radoc said he considers the case closed based on strong evidence.
A full briefing is scheduled at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Norman Mendoza and Jhunnex Napallacan/RAM
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