THREE brothers have turned up as principal suspects in the killing of a 62-year old Filipino-Chinese businesswoman in Talisay City in Cebu whose body they stuffed inside a refrigerator last All Saints’ Day, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
One of the suspects, identified as Jay-R Banilad, was arrested in a follow-up operation while his brother Jeffrey surrendered to the local police, said Police Regional Office 7 director Chief Supt. Debold M. Sinas.
The third suspect, Johnny Banilad, who was tagged as the mastermind in the killing of Victoria Po Lua, is still being hunted as of press time, the official said. All three were familiar with the house of the victim, thus her five dogs did not bark at them nor was there forcible entry into the Lua residence. The brothers were said to be helping in the alcohol business of the victim.
Sinas said during questioning, the two brothers pointed to their elder sibling Johnny as the one who masterminded the gruesome crime. He said the two also claimed that their brother had previously admitted to them his involvement on previous theft incidents at the victim’s house and how they gained from it.
Sinas said the two arrested suspects confessed that the three of them had a drinking spree on Saturday night and that their elder brother had told them he will be going into hiding.
“However, our investigators noticed some inconsistencies on the statement of the two brothers and it appears that they were actually involved in the planning of the murder. In fact, my men found out that the two were really planning to leave their place but due to an alcohol hangover, they woke up late to find out that police were already out to catch them,” the Central Visayas police director said.
Jeffrey Banilad also deleted all text messages in his cellphone from October 26 onwards further raising suspicion that he was hiding something.
The three were believed to have conspired to kill Lua inside her house in Barangay Tabunok in Talisay City before stuffing her body inside a refrigerator.
The discovery of the frozen body triggered a massive investigation by the Talisay City Municipal Police Station led by Supt. Marlu P. Conag which led to the identification and arrest of the suspects.
According to Sinas, Talisay police investigators found an informant that led them to the location of the suspects in Badian town hours after the body of the victim was discovered.