ILOILO – The suspect in the killing of a 16-year-old Grade 10 female student in Cabatuan, Iloilo on Wednesday night surrendered to the police station of Calinog town yesterday afternoon.
The 25-year-old Gringgo “Niko” Morales of Barangay Bagongbong, Dueñas, Iloilo confessed to the crime.
A construction worker who also dabbled as a butcher of pigs and cows, Morales sought the help of cousin Luisa Cataluña in Sitio Cristobal, Barangay Cahigon, Calinog after fleeing Cabatuan.
Shaken by the gruesome death of victim Ariza Marie Mayormente, relatives persuaded Morales to surrender, according to the suspect’s sister Perly Morales Loreno.
Mayormente was stabbed multiple times to death in her house. Among her fatal wounds were on her throat and abdomen, according to the Cabatuan police.
Morales said he was drunk when he attacked the teenager but denied raping the senior high school student whose house on Serrano Extension Street, Zacarias Subdivision, Cabatuan was just across the house where the suspect and wife were temporarily staying as caretakers.
Cabatuan police station commander Chief Inspector Sullen Domingo said they would wait for the result of the autopsy to determine whether the victim was raped or not.
“If mag-positive, rape with homicide or murder ang i-file nga kaso,” he said.
As of this writing, Morales was at the Iloilo Police Provincial Office in Camp Sumagaysay, Santa Barbara, Iloilo where he was taken after his surrender to the Calinog police. He was being processed for transfer to the Cabatuan police station.
Morales also surrendered a 15-inch knife used on Mayormente.
The Cabatuan police zeroed in on Morales after a neighbor in Zacarias Subdivision came forward with an information on the suspect.
According to this witness whose identity the Cabatuan police declined to divulge for now, he saw Morales on a vacant lot at the back of the Mayormente house around 10:20 p.m. on Wednesday.
“He found this strange, according to the witness, knowing that the house where Morales was temporarily staying was in front of the Mayormente house,” said Cabatuan police chief Domingo.
The victim was an only child. Marilou Mayormente found her daughter dead in the teenager’s bedroom around 5:45 a.m. on Feb. 14.
Ariza Marie was last seen alive by her father around 9 p.m. on Feb. 13 in their house. He left her alone as he had to help Marilou close their eatery at the Cabatuan public market.
The parents returned to the house from their carinderia around 10 p.m. and did not bother to check their daughter – whom they presumed was already sleeping in her bedroom – despite noticing that their house’s back door was ajar, said Domingo.
It was only the following morning that Marilou checked her daughter’s room. Ariza Marie, a student of Cabatuan National Comprehensive High School, was on the floor of the bedroom already dead.
According to the Cabatuan police, Morales’ getaway vehicle, a motorcycle, was recovered on a bridge in Barangay R. Armada, Janiuay, Iloilo late night on Wednesday.
The police learned about the abandoned motorcycle – which turned out to be the suspect’s – from Barangay Kagawad John David Cano of R. Armada yesterday morning.
Morales apparently fell from his motorcycle while fleeing. Cano, who was nearby and saw the road mishap, offered to help.
Morales, instead of welcoming the offer, ran away, Cano told the Cabatuan police./PN