Reah Mae Tocmo update: Murder victim seen arguing with man a day before she was found dead

By: Emmariel Ares - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | August 01,2023 - 07:27 PM


Rhea Mae Tocmo, 19. | Contributed Photo via Paul Lauro

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The man who admitted to selling the cellular phone of murder victim Reah Mae Tocmo told police that he saw the victim arguing with the person who instructed him to sell her cellphone. 

Simeon Gabutero Jr., a 22-year-old construction worker, told investigators that he saw Tocmo and Roberto Hisman Gabison, alias “Insik,” arguing near an elementary school in Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City when he happened to pass by the area.

That was a day before Tocmo’s body was found stuffed inside a carton and dumped by the side of the road in Barangay Tisa, Cebu City.

Gabutero and Gabison lived in the same neighborhood in Guadalupe.

Seller not murderer

Gabutero also confessed to being the individual in the picture released by the police who sold Tocmo’s cellphone. The buyer, however, turned over the unit to the police.

However, Gabutero insisted that he is not one of the killers of the 19-year-old woman whose badly-bruised body was found on the morning of July 17.

In an interview with CDN Digital, Gabutero said that he is innocent and that he was not familiar with the victim.

READ: Cebu City police collars suspect in murder of Rhea Mae Tocmo

He stated that he had Tocmo’s cellphone because his neighbor, Gabison told him to have it unlocked or sell it on July 16.

However, in early reports, Gabison denied having asked Gabutero to sell a cellular phone on his behalf.

Gabutero also told police that after selling Tocmo’s cellphone for P1,700, he gave the money to Gabison, who then handed him P500 as promised.

Gabutero said that he had no idea that the phone belonged to a possible murder victim.

“Wala ko kahibaw nga katong cellphona diay, ang tag-iya ato, kato diayng namatay. Kay wala pa man gyud to ni-[gawas] sa media ba. Kung nakahibaw pa lang ko nga katong cellphonea sa namatay, di ko mobaligya ato man,” he said.

Gabutero added that he was instructed by Gabison not to tell who owns the cellphone if somebody would ask.

Nervous and afraid

Gabutero also admitted that when he learned that the police were looking for him, he did not submit himself to authorities for fear that he might be implicated in the crime.

“Nakuyawan man ko ato kay nakabasa ko ba nga ako diay gitumbok nga suspect. Mao to nakuyawan ko nya naglibog ko unsa akong buhaton. Pero sa akong kaugalingon, inosente ko,” he said.

Gabutero is now detained at the Labangon Police Station pending the filing of appropriate charges.

Gabison, who was arrested in a buy-bust operation on Sunday, July 30, is detained at the custodial facility of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).

Footage of Reah Mae’s final moments

Police Major Angelito Valleser, chief of Labangon Police Station, said that they are currently backtracking closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage of the areas. 

On Saturday, July 29, 2023, police arrested Gabutero after they responded to a call about an armed person in Barangay Guadalupe.

The police then recognized Gabutero as the person whose picture was released by the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) and tagged as one of the persons of interest in the Tocmo case.

Investigation continues

Valleser said that as of now, they continue to look into the possible involvement of Gabutero and Gabison in Tocmo’s death and will continue to backtrack CCTV footage to determine the identity of the motorcycle driver.

Valleser also urged the public to relay to them any information that they may have about the motorcycle driver.

He also urged the driver himself to come to the police to shed light on the gruesome murder. 

“Kung kinsa man gani tong driver nga nasakyan ni Rhea magpatingaw, mohatag og [impormasyon], aron mahatagan pug hustisya ang krimen,” he said.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare, the spokesperson of the Police Regional Office Central Visayas director Police Brigadier General Anthony Aberin, for his part, said that they are also closely monitoring the developments of the case of Reah Mae Tocmo and are confident that it will be solved soon. 

“We want to give Cebu City Police Office the time and the leeway to gather more evidence so that they could file the appropriate charges in court and we can consider then that the Tocmo case is solved,” he said. | with Mary Godinez, CTU Intern


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TAGS: Cebu City, Murder, Rhea Mae Tocmo

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