NBI: Facebook chats, CCTV footage prove 17-year-old to be prime suspect in Silawan’s slay
CEBU CITY, Philippines—The National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) has put together some parts of the puzzle of the mysterious and gruesome death of 16-year-old, Christine Silawan with the arrest of the 17-year-old her former boyfriend and primary suspect of the case on Saturday night, March 16.
Lawyer Antonio Pagatpat, the deputy director for the NBI Regional Office Service, said in a press conference on Monday night, March 18, that their cybercrime division was able to track the conversations of Christine with the 17-year-old on facebook and found closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage in Barangay Pajac in Lapu-lapu City that proves his involvement in the crime.
Francis Señora, NBI senior agent, said that through the Open-source intelligence (OSINT) they used on the victim’s account, they were able to track a certain facebook account, owned by the 17-year-old, which was frequently connected to Silawan’s account.
Señora said that placed the 17-year-old’s account under technical surveillance and examination, which resulted to the identification of the 17-year-old as a person of interest (POI) in the case.
The CCTV footage taken from various establishments in Barangay Pajac, Lapu-Lapu City and the accounts of the witnesses proved the involvement of the POI, and the NBI-7 sought for a search warrant from the sala of Honorable Judge Ramon Daomilas of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 11 of the Cebu City to seize evidence from the house of the suspect in Lapu-Lapu City.
“During, the services of the Search Warrant, electronic devices owned and controlled by the POI were seized. Likewise, based on positive identification by witnesses, the POI was placed under the custody be the virtue of Principle of Hot Pursuit,” said Señora.
After the seizure of the cellphone and other electronic devices of the suspect, the NBI-7 found messages and communication between the suspect and Silawan ‘clearly’ indicating an existing romantic relationship between the two and a plan to meet on March 10, 6 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Church in Pajac.
According to Lawyer Dominador Cimafranca, the assistant director of the NBI-7, the text messages revealed that the 17-year-old boy wanted to give a gift to Silawan on the day she died.
“However, we are still establishing if siya (suspect) talaga yung kausap sa chat kasi iba yung pangalan sa facebook,” said Cimafranca.
In different establishments along the Pajac road, Señora said they found closed-circuit television footage showing Silawan and the suspect moving from the Pajac church around 6 p.m., walk together along the Pajac road, and finally crossing the gate of a subdivision around 6:38 p.m.
Based on the port-mortem examinations, Silawan must have been killed between 6 p.m. to 7 p.m as her body was in the state of “secondary flaccidity,” which occurs 12 hours after rigor mortis or the rigidity that occurs to a body four hours after death.
Señ0ra said that the victim was first spotted on the CCTV footage of a glass store along Pajac road around 5:50 p.m. where her feet wearing black shoes was visible on the edge of the footage. Silawan was also wearing black pants. She was positively identified by a witness.
In another CCTV taken from a hardware store, Silawan was shown to be eating balut with her friend outside the Pajac Church at around 5:50 p.m. of the same afternoon.
Minutes after, the suspect was first sighted walking along the sidewalk across the Pajac Barangay Hall wearing a cap on reverse, slim fit shorts, and a dark shirt bringing a cellphone on his right hand.
Later, he was seen on a CCTV footage of the glass store crossing the street to the main gate of the Pajac church and this time, carrying the cap on his right hand.
Silawan was later seen at 6:07 p.m. with her friend moving from the balut stand to the Sacred Heart Parish Church gate together. Señora said that this was around the time they were done eating the balut.
“A few minutes later, we see the victim rushing from the parish church heading along the streets of Pajac, that’s the victim,” said Señora.
The CCTV further shows that the suspect followed Silawan outside the Pajac church. Señora said that they seemed to be fighting.
Around 6:35 p.m., a CCTV of one of the residential homes along Pajac road caught Silawan and the 17-year-old walking adjacent to each other to the direction of a certain international school in Pajac.
Señora said that at least three witnesses positively identified the victim with her clothes and her bag.
Later on, the suspect and the victim were seen passing the gate of a subdivision in Pajac. This would be the last footage that both the victim and the suspect would be seen before the killing.
Señora said that the footage became the evidence that proved that the 17-year-old was the last person Silawan saw before her death and the last area they were last seen, in the subdivision, was less than a kilometer from the empty lot where she was found half-naked with her face skinned.
According to Pagatpat, the 17-year-old did not admit to the killing of Silawan, when the charges of Murder in relation to Cybercrime Prevention were filed at the Office of the Prosector in Lapu-lapu City on Monday afternoon.
He said that they are still looking into the possibility that the suspect was aided by cohorts although they are yet to find circumstantial evidence of their existence or connection to the crime.
Pagatpat said that the suspect may have been done the crime out jealousy and by passionate anger and with manner of killing – the skinning of the face – the suspect may have had help.
“Nakikita namin na jealousy yung motive. Makikita sa CCTV na parang nakita nung suspect na may kasama yung victim na kaibigang lalaki. Makikita naman na she was walking hurriedly galing sa church tapos sinundan nung lalaki (suspect), parang hinabol. Naglalakad sila na parang nag-aaway,” said Pagatpat.
Cimafranca said that the victim did not receive any threat from the suspect prior to the killing.
Lawyer Tomas Enrile, the director of NBI-7, said the suspect may have skinned the face of the victim to conceal her identity.
As for the capability of the suspect to “skill-fully” skin the face of the victim, Enrile said that based it is now “moot and academic” as circumstantial evidence leads to him as the primary suspect of the crime.
“Nandiyan na yan. Yung capability, if there’s too much jealousy, with too much anger, pwede mangyari yan,” said Enrile.
For this reason, Enrile said they continue to conduct follow up investigations to confirm if the suspect indeed had cohorts in committing the crime.
NBI-7 officials also affirmed the results of the police autopsy that Silawan may not have been raped because of the lack of recent lacerations in the private parts of the victims.
However, cotton swabs obtained from the autopsy will undergo DNA testing to see if there were other people involved in the crime.
Pagatpat admitted that they found no witness for the actual crime and they are still looking for more witnesses.
He also said that they are not leaning on cult activities as motives of the crime since evidence show that the 17-year-old was most likely driven with jealousy.
Cimafranca said that they are hoping they can trace where the organs of Silawan were taken and find out deeper motives for her gruesome death.
The mother of Silawan, Lourdes, said Christine will be laid to rest on Sunday, March 24./elb
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