POLICE have reason to be jubilant. Less than two weeks after Cebu businessman Richard King was shot dead last June 12 in Davao City, the gunman and two accomplices, with the police officer who recruited them, were in police custody.

But is the high-profile murder already solved, as Region 11 police chief Wendy Rosario announced Wednesday?

Witnesses have identified the gunman, one Paul Dave Labang, who with the lookout man and the getaway motorcycle driver reportedly confessed to the crime. But Sr. Supt. Leonardo Felonia, whom the killers had tagged, has denied participation. He surrendered, he said, to clear his name.

Even if the police officer did hire the killers, did he have a motive other than the P20 million fee?

Police investigators tagged "an internal conflict" in King's business group as motive for the rubout. If that was so, Felonia merely set up the crew of killers, the "middleman" who might have taken the bulk of the price on King's head as the gunman reportedly got only P30,000.

Main motive

The mastermind had the principal motive, the one who wanted King dead. It was he who set off the murder machine. The others were just paid killers. A tearful Labang said he knew who King was, a hotelier and investor, not a drug-lord, only a day after he shot him.

Region police chief Rosario said, "Maybe there is still a mastermind out there."

There must be, chief. Analyze the motive, anti-crime experts tell us. Don't let the King murder become a cold case until the mastermind is identified and prosecuted.

The mystery is only half-solved.

(paseares@gmail.com)