PNP: NO NIDA SLAY FALL GUYS
Manila, Nov. 19, 2001 - (STAR) By Christina Mendez - The Philippine National Police (PNP) assured the people yesterday that it will not resort to the use of fall guys to give justice to slain actress Nida Blanca.
This developed as Task Force Marsha, specifically created to speed up solution of the Nov. 7 slaying, has yet to make good its promise of making a significant breakthrough in its investigation.
Task Force Marsha Superintendent Leonardo Espina indicated that it may take some more time before an arrest of a suspect could be made.
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Director Reynaldo Wycoco said last week that task force agents expected to wrap up their mission by last Thursday or Friday.
"It will take us a little more time (to solve the case)," Espina said.
The probers cited the lack of an eyewitness as the main reason why they were having a hard time pinning down any suspect.
"This case is a hard nut to crack because nobody witnessed the killing. It is quite complicated, that is why we are trying to backtrack on the incidents that happened prior to the killing," Espina said.
He said the investigators have focused their attention on gathering material evidence.
Police were also awaiting results of DNA tests on samples taken from the victim’s fingers and toenails. Results of the examinations, however, were expected in two to three weeks.
Meanwhile, Director Nestorio Gualberto, chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and concurrent head of Task Force Marsha, revealed that investigators were following up a strong lead that may eventually solve the case.
Gualberto refused to elaborate.
Police have virtually ruled out robbery as motive for the slaying of Blanca, whose real names was Dorothy Jones.
Judging from Blanca’s superficial wounds, forensic experts believed that the killer used only a small pocket knife.
A close friend of Blanca is expected to undergo a polygraph test tomorrow at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as police have no definite suspects yet.
A source at the NBI said Candelaria Tantoco has volunteered to be subjected to the lie detector test to ultimately quash suspicions that she had had something to do with Blanca’s death.
Gualberto has interrogated Tantoco who admitted that she used to drive Blanca to the Casino Filipino, but pointed out that she did not do so on Nov. 6.
It was still unclear if the actress played at the casino in Parañaque City a few hours before her death as reportedly indicated by video footage taken by the surveillance camera of the facility.
Casino employees maintained that Blanca went to the place on Nov. 5, not Nov. 6 as reported earlier.
Noel de la Paz, described as a distant relative of Blanca, has also told police that he was able to trace her to the casino on the night of Nov. 6, adding a casino personnel also confirmed to him by telephone that she was there, accompanied by two women and an elderly man.
In her testimony given to the police, Tantoco said she was at home the whole day of Nov. 6.
Blanca’s personal driver, Antonio Borja, has also claimed he was at home watching television with his children on Nov. 6, adding that the last time he drove for Blanca and her husband, Australian-born Rod Lauren Strunk, was on Oct. 13.
Investigators said one of the latent fingerprints lifted from Blanca’s Nissan Sentra car belonged to Borja.
Blanca’s lifeless body was found in the backseat of her car early in the morning of Nov. 7 by security guards of the Atlanta Centre in Greenhills, San Juan where she worked as a director of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.
The body bore 13 stab wounds, five of them in the left cheek, five in the left armpit, two in the back and one below the left ear.
Forensic experts said the wounds were superficial, giving rise to suspicions that the attackers used a pocket knife.
The investigators were also poised to invite for questioning the mother of a movie starlet for more information that could possibly lead to the solution of the crime.
Gualberto remained confident that they were on the right track in their investigation, saying the suspects have been placed under a 24-hour surveillance, effectively eliminating the possibility of escape.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2001 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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