FIREFIGHTERS found the charred body of an American national after putting out the flames that engulfed a vehicle in Sitio Lower Busay in Barangay Busay, Cebu City Thursday afternoon.
Busay Barangay Councilor Eliodoro “Yody” Sanchez confirmed that Timothy Wilson, who lived in Toledo City, was the man found inside the vehicle.
Timothy was identified by his wife Joy, who went to the Busay Barangay Hall last night after hearing reports about a human body found inside a burned car in the hillyland.
Busay Councilor Kevin Sanchez believes the vehicle, reportedly a gray Toyota RAV 4 model, was set on fire.
“Klaro, tataw kaayo gituyo (It’s very clear the fire was intentional),” he said in a radio dyLA report.
The Cebu City Fire Station received the alarm at 3:02 p.m. and put out the flames 10 minutes later.
At the fire scene yesterday, SPO2 Rommel Bancog of the Cebu City Police Office’s Homicide Section could not determine if the body was male or female because it was burned beyond recognition. The police will have the body undergo an autopsy today, Friday.
But Yody Sanchez posted on his Facebook account past 10 o’clock last night that the passenger has been identified and a suspect has been named.
The suspect is an Australian friend who owed Wilson money.
Sun.Star Cebu is withholding the name of the Australian until he can give a statement.
Yody Sanchez said Wilson’s wife was already at the Homicide Section to help with the investigation.
Initial investigation revealed that a Caucasian man had negotiated with a jeepney driver in Hilltop, Busay to tow the Toyota RAV 4.
The police are locating the Caucasian, who reportedly hired Antonio de Asis to tow the vehicle and bring it to the area where it was set on fire.
De Asis, the driver who plies the Plaza Housing-downtown Cebu City route, told investigators that the Caucasian approached and offered him P2,000 to pick up a damaged vehicle.
They got the vehicle from Cebu Hilltop Hotel in Busay and brought it to the elevated area of Lower Busay, where the man said that an auto mechanic was waiting to repair the vehicle.
De Asis told the police he believed there was something wrong with the vehicle because the foreigner couldn’t start it.
He said he also could not clearly see what was inside the vehicle because the glass windows were heavily tinted. He said he did not know if anyone was inside.
Witnesses saw the foreigner cover the car with a cloth before leaving the area reportedly in a Toyota Innova past 2 p.m.
A few minutes later, the car went up in flames.
The vehicle, parked a few meters from a roadside chapel and was facing a cliff, was a wreck.
The body of a person was found on the passenger seat of the vehicle.
Sanchez said the incident is a first in the barangay as far as he can recall.
Homicide investigators went to the hotel to look for the foreigner who left the scene of the fire past 2 p.m.
Bancog said the hotel management gave the name of a certain Kevin Kline, who may be the person who negotiated with de Asis. The police are locating Kline so he can give his statement.
The police officer doubts, though, that the foreigner gave his real name to the front desk.
“For now, we can’t tag him as a suspect yet but we consider him a person of interest,” he said.
Investigators will review the footage of the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at the hotel to check the activities of the foreigner.
Kline reportedly checked in at the hotel last Tuesday and was supposed to check out the following day, but he told the front desk he would extend his stay in Room 21.
At 3 p.m. yesterday, hotel workers saw the foreigner walking back to his room and gathered all his belongings.