EXPECTING her British husband to come home this month, Virginia Sharpe hired Manuel Labrador to renovate their two-story house in Deca Homes Subdivision in Barangay Tungkil, Minglanilla in the middle of June.
A week after Sharpe, 37, and her 11-year-old daughter Mica Ella could not be accounted for by their neighbors, their bodies were found buried in the septic tank in the kitchen area of their house.
Initial investigation by the police showed that the victims could have been killed August 14 yet.
The only survivor in the household was Virginia’s pet dog, Asul.
The victims had their clothes on when they were found on Thursday, August 20, with wounds in the back of their heads. Mica Ella was still in her PE uniform.
A packaging tape was wrapped around Virginia’s ankles and around her head.
PO2 Arnel Resente, the investigator, said an autopsy will determine what caused their death. They will also check if the victims were raped.
Shortly after the bodies were retrieved past 5 p.m. Thursday, police arrested Labrador and fellow carpenters Estelito Ricamora and George Baquiran in the neighboring barangay of Calajoan.
Resente said the carpenters were last seen in Sharpe’s house afternoon of August 14.
Labrador, 34, tagged Ricamora, 58, as the killer. But Ricamora said Labrador carried out the crime.
Baquiran said he was not involved.
Minglanilla Police Chief Richard Gadingan said they will file murder complaints against the carpenters.
He said a tablet computer believed to be owned by Virginia was recovered from Ricamora.
Virginia, a native of Aurora Plateau, Zamboanga del Sur, had contracted the services of Labrador to renovate the house.
Labrador is often hired by homeowners in Deca Homes for carpentry work.
When the contract period ended and Labrador still hadn’t finished the renovation, he reportedly borrowed P25,000 from Virginia so he could pay his fellow carpenters.
At 12:05 p.m. of August 14, Virginia posted on her Facebook account some pictures of Labrador installing moldings in her house.
At 1:37 p.m., she posted a joke from Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago: “Kapag nangungutang, ang bait bait. Pag sinisingil, siya pa ang galit. Kapal din eh noh?”
But Labrador denied borrowing money from Virginia.
“Wa gyod koy labot sa ilang kamatayon (I have no hand in their death),” he said.
Last Sunday morning, Ricamora said Labrador asked him to go with him and bury a dog.
He said he was stunned to see bodies when he got inside the Sharpes’ house.
Labrador buried the victims in the kitchen, Ricamora said.
The crime shocked Virginia’s neighbors in Phase 2 of Deca Homes, which is usually peaceful, they said.
“Nakalitan gyud mi ani,” said Joy Cedeño. “Wa gyud miy nadunggang langas gikan sulod sa balay.” (We were taken aback because we didn’t hear any noise coming from the Sharpes’ house.)
Sharpes’ neighbors sought the help of barangay officials when they started to worry and wonder why Virginia and Mica Ella had not left the house since Saturday.
Virginia did not answer the calls to her cell phone and did not open the door when her name was called.
Cedeño said the house was locked.
Nennesa Maglasang, Mica Ella’s sixth grade adviser at the David Solomon Learning Foundation in Phase 3 of Deca Homes, said she started to worry after the girl missed class last Monday, the first day of their first periodical exams.
Past 9 a.m. Thursday, together with the the police, tanods and Tungkil barangay councilor Cesar Santiago, the neighbors broke into the Sharpes’ house.
They searched the second floor first before checking the ground floor and the kitchen.
When they opened the sliding door to the kitchen, a foul smell met them.
Several blowflies (lagom) on the tiles led them to where the victims were buried.
They destroyed the tiles using a bolo and found the mother and daughter.
Their bodies were covered with a sack, and a slab of wood was placed on them before the culprits installed tiles over the septic tank.
A team from the Crime Scene Investigation unit of Cebu Provincial Police Office entered the house past 2 p.m.
The bodies of the victims were brought to a funeral parlor around 5 p.m.
Virginia’s close friend Maricor Coral said the Sharpes transferred to Deca Homes from Talisay City last December.
Coral said Virginia married her British husband in a civil ceremony in 2004. The British national then adopted Mica Ella.
Coral said she had sent Virginia to Mambaling Night High School in the 1990s when her friend asked help from her. During the day, Virginia watched the store owned by Coral’s family in Lawaan, Talisay City.
Last August 9, Coral said she went to Virginia’s house for some karaoke singing.
Maglasang, the teacher, said she was saddened by Mica Ella’s death.
She said the girl was a first-honor student from pre-school until grade five.