INVESTIGATORS of the robbery and killing of Karen Kaye Montebon declared Wednesday the case closed, a day after her suspected killer was found dead on an islet off Bohol Province.
“We are 100 percent sure he perpetrated the crime,” said Senior Supt. Marlon Tayaba, director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group 7, referring to 23-year-old Ruben Gerongco Fernandez.
Emelinda Montebon, the 17-year-old student’s mother, broke down when she and her husband faced the suspect’s girlfriend in the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LLCPO).
“Inyo na lang unta gikawat tanang kabtangan sa balay, dili lang akong anak (You could have taken all our things, just not my daughter),” she said.
Senior Supt. Armando Radoc, chief of the LLCPO, said he was convinced Jenalyn Soon, 23, did not participate in the crime.
Fernandez, 23, who had been involved in several theft and robbery cases, was tagged as a suspect after Soon told the police they were the couple who went to the Montebon family’s house hours before the girl was found dead.
Karen Kaye, a first-year accountancy student of the University of San Carlos, was found dead inside her room in the Corinthians Subdivision in Barangay Basak, Lapu-Lapu City last Sept. 15.
Last Tuesday afternoon, exactly a week after she was killed, a team from LLCPO found Fernandez dead near a bridge in Barangay Nasingin in Getafe, Bohol, moments after they heard gunshots.
He suffered a gunshot wound on his head.
Senior Supt. Rey Lyndon Lawas, head of the region-wide task force created to catch the student’s killer, declared the case closed in a press conference yesterday, where the witnesses and evidence were presented.
Lawas said the Special Investigation Task Group is preparing a final report on the case.
The police’s work, however, is not yet over.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Chief Supt. Prudencio Tom Bañas ordered an investigation to identify the persons who killed Fernandez.
“Law enforcers are human rights practitioners. Unfortunately, the police were not able to get him first,” said Bañas.
Getafe Police Station Chief Marcelino Mejias said they have started their investigation on the death of Fernandez, radio dyLA reported.
Mejias, in a separate radio dyHP interview, said he was not aware of a barangay official’s claim that police assets shot Fernandez.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III commended the police for their efforts, but also urged the police to “look deeper” into Fernandez’s death.
“They should coordinate really with the police in Bohol. They should exchange information regarding the death of the principal suspect,” he said.
Bohol Gov. Edgardo Chatto said he was initially informed by his provincial police director about what happened last Tuesday.
Chatto was in the Cebu Capitol Social Hall yesterday to attend the Regional Peace and Order Council meeting.
Although Soon offered information about Fernandez’s involvement in the crime, Radoc said he would not recommend that she be given the P500,000 reward offered by the Lapu-Lapu City Government.
The police official said that Soon lied at one point: she said at first that her boyfriend did not go inside Karen Kaye’s house but later said he went in and even played with the family’s dog.
Soon’s testimony helped the police recover the items Fernandez allegedly stole from the Montebons’ house.
Emelinda and her husband James yesterday identified most of the items as belonging to their daughter, including the DSLR camera, accessories, a power bank and a portable PlayStation. The girl’s iPad remained missing.
Radoc said the police’s contact persons in Nasingin may deserve to get a financial reward, but not the entire amount.
Mayor Paz Radaza said she referred the matter to the City Legal Office.
In an interview with reporters, Soon said she regretted going to Karen Kaye’s house with Fernandez, but that it never crossed her mind he would do the crime.
“Naguol ko. Giisip na nako nga igsuon si Karen (I am sad. I treated Karen as my sister),” she said.
Soon said she went to the Montebon family’s house past 7 a.m. last Sept. 15 to check if her older sister Roselyn Hummel, who is based in Hawaii, had sent money for their parents.
Hummel usually sent money through Karen Kaye’s mother, as her siblings and parents didn’t have identification cards. They are close friends and former neighbors of the Montebons.
Surveillance camera footage showed Soon and Fernandez entering the subdivision at 7:03 a.m. on a black-and-white motorcycle and leaving at 7:11 a.m.
At 7:45 a.m., Fernandez was seen driving back inside. He was seen leaving again at 8:15 a.m.
Soon said that Fernandez asked her to get off the motorcycle in Barangay Bankal shortly after they left the subdivision. He said their gas was running low and he would get money to buy fuel. He left her on the road.
They saw each other again in Barangay Marigondon around 1 p.m. By then, he was carrying a bag containing a DSLR camera, some accessories, a power bank and a portable PlayStation.
She also noticed an iPad hidden in the waistband of his pants, against his back. He told her he had stolen the items from a Korean national.
Fernandez asked one of his friends to pawn the camera. The gadget was pawned for P7,000, but Fernandez received P5,000 from his friend. They allegedly used a portion of the money for a pot session.
James, Karen Kaye’s father, thanked the police for the effort to get the girl’s killer.
“Pero di man ingon na malipay ta kay di na man gyud mabalik ang akong anak (But I can’t say I’m happy because no matter what, I can’t get my daughter back),” he said.
During the press conference, Soon told Karen Kaye’s parents she didn’t know her boyfriend wanted to rob their daughter.
The police picked Soon up in Barangay San Vicente, Olango Island, after her sister in Hawaii called up the police asking for help. Hummel said her sister knew something about the killing of Karen Kaye.
“Mao ni ang inyong ibawos sa kaayo na akong gipakita ninyo (Is this how you repay me for all the kindness I’ve shown you)?” asked Emelinda.