P500K reward up for King killer

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Friday, June 13, 2014


DAVAO CITY -- City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte raised the reward offer for information regarding the killer of Cebu-based businessman Richard Lim King, 56, from the P200,000 originally offered by the family to P500,000.

It was not yet clear where the mayor will be getting the P300,000 as additional reward to the P200,000 award money raised by the King's family.

King was killed in front of a gathering of health supplement distributors in Barrio Obrero, here, Thursday night.

Investigation is still ongoing and there are several angles to be considered, including King’s businesses in Davao, Cebu, and Palawan, but the mayor asked that the details of the leads they are working on be kept off the record first.

The mayor called a press conference early evening Friday at the Royal Mandaya Hotel which he cut short for a closed door meeting with two women from the King family, who flew in from Cebu. One of the women is said to be King’s widow.

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BRAZEN. Tables are still full of leftover food from a gathering of marketers of Vital-C as funeral workers prepare to take out the body of business owner Richard L. King after he was shot dead in front of his distributors inside the Vital-C office along Sobrecarey Street in Barrio Obrero. (King Rodriguez)


Duterte was also quick to dismiss rumors that it is drug-related saying there is nothing in the investigation to indicate such.

“Dili na drugs. Dili mamakak ang pulis niana (This has nothing to do with drugs. The police will not lie about such things),” he said.

The victim has businesses in Davao, Cebu and also Palawan and investigators have to check all these.

From the investigation report of the police, the assassination was well-planned and executed in a brazen manner as King, owner of Crown Regency Group of Hotels and Vital C, was shot dead at close range from behind by a bare-faced gunman while in a dinner gathering of his health supplement distributors inside the Vital C office along Sobrecarey Street in Barrio Obrero around 6:45 p.m.

Stunned witnesses

Witnesses said they saw the man milling outside the office door, but no one gave much attention thinking that it must be a companion of one of their fellow distributors. The man then entered the room where the distributors were having dinner and listening to King. The killer with his back turned to the gathering went behind King, who was standing while talking to his distributors, then turned around to shoot the businessman pointblank at the lower left part of the skull. The bullet exited through the upper right temple.

King was in Davao City for the acceptance ceremony of the 13 wellness consultants of Vital-C. He was standing and talking to his staff, distributors, and guests at the ground floor of the two-story building when shot.

The victim was booked on the 10 p.m. flight back to Cebu.

King was a chairman and chief executive officer of J. King & Sons Co. Inc., developer of Crown Regency, Club Ultima and the City Suites Ramos Tower. He was also the founder and Director of Boracay Multiple Properties Inc.

A source, who refused to be named for security purposes, said the authorities already have the cellular phone of the victim, which contains several messages. However, the authorities had refused to go into details as everything they gathered from the crime scene is still subject for investigation.

The Davao City Police Office (DCPO) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-Davao Region are leading the investigation.

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DAVAO. Davao City Police Office chief Vicente Danao (center) check out the scene of the crime along with several police officers and staff of Vital-C. (King Rodriguez)


Bare-faced

Sta. Ana Police Chief Royina M. Garma, in a separate interview, said the authorities have a cartographic sketch of the gunman, who is described to be around 5’5 tall, medium built and boney face, who fled on board a black XRM motorcycle driven by a man wearing black helmet, red and white t-shirt and long maong pants.

"Mabilis yung pangyayari. Basta, nakita namin yung gunman una sa door, nagtaka kami kasi kung distributor siya dapat nakilala namin sya, but we didn’t mind kasi baka a friend of someone din from the inside or bago sa Vital-C… then lumapit sya sa counter hanggang sa tumabi na sya kay R1, tapos yun na," a distributor said.

"Anyone could have shot the suspect kung isa lang sana may dala ng baril sa amin. Kasi nataranta pa siya eh… after what he did. Hinahanap pa niya ang pintuan pa labas, kasi nga glass (walls and) door, tapos nung papalabas na siya, nadapa pa talaga siya bago siya tuluyan nakasakay ng motorsiklo paalis," another distributor said.

Well-timed

The building has no security cameras. There was also no security guard on duty when the incident happened.

Michael Ganaden, a security guard of the building, who arrived after the incident, said there is no guard other than him assigned in the area. He added that his duty starts at 9 p.m. and ends at 9 a.m. He has been assigned at the company for three years.

"Natingala na lang ko pag-abot nako daghan police... Kini man gud diri sulod gawas ang mga tao diri ba kay sila-sila ra man pud ng mga distributors’ ug mga members’ ang mag-ilhanay. Akong duty gabii pa man, so pag-abot nako diri, human na ang insidente (I was surprised that there were so many policemen. People come and go in this building since the distributors and members know each other. I report for duty only at night, thus when I arrived, the crime already happened)," Ganaden said.

No bodyguard

The victim's friend, who also asked to remain anonymous, said he could not believe that will happen all of a sudden in front of him.

"We've been friends for 28 years, and I kept on telling him to hire personal body guards… and he just told me that he doesn't need it kasi wala naman daw siyang kagalit dito [Davao City]. Sabi pa niya kung mamamatay siya di patay," the friend said.

Meanwhile, members of the Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) recovered one deformed slug and a spent cartridge of an undetermined caliber gun. The cadaver of the victim was temporarily brought to the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes awaiting the arrival of his family.

The authorities in Davao City are now forming a Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) to address the investigative requirements and provide solution about the death of the businessman.

CIDG-Davao Regional Director Joel Pernito said the SITG will be composed of operatives from their unit, Davao City Police Office, Police Regional Office (PRO) Davao, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and other concerned government agencies.

Pernito, however, was quick to add that they will only assist on the investigation. He also said as far as their unit is concerned, the investigation will not only focus in Davao City, but also in Cebu City.

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DEAD BODY. Authorities cover the dead body of Cebu-based businessman Richard King who was shot to death by an unidentified gunman. King was in Davao City for a gathering of marketers of Vital-C, one of his businesses. (King Rodriguez photo)

Colorful life

Although not known to the business circle here, King was a popular business figure in Cebu and had appeared in the news several times.

In 2002, he accused then Regional Trial Court Judge Agapito Hontanosas of soliciting P250,000 for a favorable court decision in relation to a writ of attachment on property he filed against Nelson and Lucy Go. Nelson and Lucy were business partners of Roderick Go who, according to King, owed him P97 million and allegedly tried to kill him.

In 2004, Richard and his three brothers sued Sun.Star Cebu Public Standards editor Pachico A. Seares and columnist Elias Espinoza for writing allegedly malicious statements linking the Kings to the seized pseudoephedrine. The complaint against Seares was eventually dismissed.

In 2007, Richard and brother Rafael accused then Lapu-Lapu City mayor Arturo Radaza of asking for a P15-million bribe from a contractor (Nelson Yu), who reportedly got four big projects in the city worth P500 million. The accusation prompted Radaza to file charges of grave threat and violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Law against the King brothers.

In November 2012, members of an indigenous people’s group in Boracay claimed Richard hired armed men to attack their community and destroy the fence they had put up. The Kings built a Crown Regency Hotel and Resort in Boracay.

In September 2012, King was ordered by the Office of the Building Official in Cebu City to stop construction work of an 18-storey building in Barangay Lorega after the soil beneath the sidewalk caved in.

Amid the controversies, Richard, a chemical engineer, was known for implementing new concepts in the hotel industry. Crown Regency Hotel and Towers is the first of its kind to feature amusement facilities, including a roller coaster-like ride on the top floor of its 40-story hotel tower.

In 2006, Richard proposed a water theme park at the South Road Properties to then Cebu City mayor Tomas Osmeña. (With reports from Arianne N. Casas and Sun.Star Cebu)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 14, 2014.

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