Murders most foul
It is every family’s worst nightmare: Loved ones leave for a routine errand and never come back. Their phones remain “out of coverage area” and calls and text messages go unanswered. Days, weeks, or even years later, their gruesome fate is revealed, and the grief-stricken questions demand answers: What did they do to deserve such an unspeakable death?
This must be the heartbreaking sentiment of the families of Gloria Gonzales, 47, and Tania Camille Dee, 33, whose bodies were separately discovered over the weekend under ghastly circumstances.
Gonzales was found dead in her car Sunday morning (June 28) in Laguna, ending a four-day search that began in Cavite, where her last mobile transmission was traced Thursday, an hour after she left home in Parañaque City. She was reported missing by her husband, a telecom executive.
The car, it turned out, had been seen parked on a street in Biñan, Laguna, since Thursday, until a resident reported a foul-smelling leak coming from it. When police forced the vehicle open, they found the decomposing body covered with a blanket; the mouth, hands and feet were bound with packaging tape.
Gonzales’ bag containing her phone, wallet and possibly the jewelry she was selling was missing.
The body of Dee, a bank teller, was found by police in a shallow grave in the backyard of a house in Angeles City also on Sunday. Photos of this mother of two with the sunny features had been circulating in social media since June 21, a day after she told her mother that she was heading to a meeting with her estranged husband, Fidel Sheldon Arcenas, who had reportedly promised to give her a car.
Arcenas and his girlfriend are now the main suspects in the case. Dee’s body was found in the house being rented out by the girlfriend’s mother, who told police that Arcenas had borrowed the keys to it weeks earlier. CCTV footage from a restaurant showed Dee and her ex-husband meeting before she disappeared.
Autopsy results showed that Dee had not eaten for three to four days before she was shot in the back of the head, the bullet exiting through the face, and that Gonzales had been struck on the head three times with a blunt object.
We must ask: From where does such evil spring? How can the perpetrators, presumably known to the women, be so stone-hearted as to subject them to agonizing torment before the kill? Why the level of violence, which wasn’t even done in a time of war, when survival sometimes pushes people to do horrific crimes even they would rather forget?
The grisly killings bring to mind the fate that befell 25-year-old Kae Devantes, whose body was thrown off a bridge in Silang, Cavite, after her attackers had strangled her with the cord of her own cell phone and stabbed her in the neck in 2013.
The fast-rising advertising manager was literally at her doorstep when abducted by the men who apparently snatched her on a whim (“napag-tripan lang”), and took off with her car. How explain the random violence, the promise laid to waste?
And then there’s Ruby Rose Barrameda, strangled and stuffed into a drum weighed down with cement and sealed, presumably so her remains would lie buried in the depths of the sea off Navotas. In 2007, Barrameda had gone to a bank and was going to talk to her estranged husband over the contested custody of their children when goons allegedly hired by her father-in-law forcibly took her to a warehouse to kill her—on her father-in-law’s order, according to one of the goons turned state witness. That witness, who led police to the sealed drum under the sea in 2009, would later recant his testimony implicating Barrameda’s estranged husband and in-laws.
Fortunately, the Court of Appeals denied in 2013 the bid of Barrameda’s ex-husband to be cleared of the parricide charge, saying that “a recantation does not necessarily cancel an earlier declaration,” and that evidence was deemed acceptable based on its credibility.
It’s a long way to resolution, and presumably as circuitous is the route of justice for all the other women so violently murdered. Apart from adding more CCTV cameras in public places and beefing up police visibility in high-crime areas, what is there to do in the face of such callous disregard for human life? What happens now?
And how to come to terms with the impenetrable darkness that dwells within the killers? How to make sense of these crimes seemingly targeting women confidently making their way in the world, only to be cut down with such brutal force? Again, we have to ask: Why?
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