It was four in the morning of July 2, 2008 when a scream pierced through the silence of the neighborhood of Felix De Leon Street, Bambang Extension, Tondo, Manila.
It came from the Abagas residence. And when the barangay captain went to the house to inspect, a gruesome scene welcomed him.
Drowning in a pool of blood with her neck slashed was 70-year-old Conchita Abaga.
Authorities were immediately alerted. Initially, they suspected that robbery was the motive. But when they scoured the house and confirmed that nothing was missing, they set aside that motive.
What then was the reason behind the murder of Lola Conchita? And who could have committed such a beastly act?
The crime scene. 70-year-old Conchita Abaga was found drowning in her own blood with her neck slashed.
Lola Conchita’s daughter, Irma Buguis, was shocked.
“Ang alam namin, komo matanda na siya, sa sakit siya mamamatay dahil nu’ng time na ‘yun nagda-dialysis na siya,” she said. “Hindi namin ine-expect na sa ganun pala [siya mamamatay].”
When asked who could possibly have the motive to do this to her mother, one person came to Irma’s mind—former Barangay Chairman Luzvimindo Fernando. According to Irma, her mother has had a long-running political feud with Luzvimindo -- an accusation he denied.
“Hindi ko akalain na paghihinalaan nila ako ng ganoon,” he says. “Magkumare kami, hindi naman kami magkaiba.”
Authorities also suspected Lola Conchita’s son-in-law, Emmanuel Buguis, whom she never got along with. This time, it was Irma who defended his husband. She admitted that while they didn’t like each other, Emmanuel could never lay a hand on her mother.
Moreover, no evidence was found to link either Luzvimindo or Emmanuel to the crime.
Authorities investigated further. And since there was no sign of forced entry, they deduced that the crime could have been committed by someone from the inside. Later in the evening, they summoned everyone who lived in the Abaga residence including the victim’s children and her borders.
Everyone denied having any involvement in the crime. But there was one who caught the authorities’ attention.
“Napansin po namin na marami siyang kalmot sa kamay,” former investigator PO3 Jonathan Ruiz tells ABS-CBN SOCO. “Lagi po siyang nakayuko tapos ayaw niyang tumingin sa amin.”
The man was identified as Michael Durana, 20 years old. He was a tenant at Lola Conchita’s house. According to Michael, he got the scratches from goofing around with a friend. But when the authorities questioned that so-called friend, she denied scratching Michael.
Who killed Lola Conchita?
In order to find further evidence that could link Michael to the crime, authorities had the MPD-SOCO process the blood at the crime scene.
The MPD-SOCO conducted a luminol test where they used a special agent, which when sprayed on areas with blood traces, will generate a blue-light reaction. While conducting the test, a blood trail was discovered leading from the victim’s room to the bathroom then to Michael Durana’s room.
Authories also suspected that the murder weapon was still inside the house and gathered all the knives and found traces of blood on one.
Because of the evidence gathered, Micheal Durano was then considered as the primary suspect in the murder of Lola Conchita.
The killer confesses
The suspect refused to speak. But on the morning of July 4, 2008, while inside his prison cell, Michael claimed to have heard voices speaking to him. This prodded him to finally confess what happened that morning of July 2.
In a sworn confession which he wrote in front of Barangay Chairman Villanueva and the police, Michael said that on the morning of July 2, 2008, he went home highly intoxicated with alcohol.
“Suka raw siya ng suka,” Villanueva said. “Natulog na siya pero maya-maya, nagising siya. Paggising niya, nagpunta siya sa CR. Nung nasa CR na siya, may bumubulong sa kanya na parang hindi niya maintindihan ang salita.”
“Naalala niya raw na nasa probinya niya sila kasi pag nasa probinsya siya, tuwing bisperas ng fiesta, nagpapatay siya ng baboy,” Villanueva further adds.
“Kaya paglabas niya ng banyo, nakita niya ang kutsilyo, kinuha niya, at wala raw sa isip niya, nilapitan niya raw si nanay, sinampahan niya.”
And according to Michael, that’s when he started slashing the 70-year-old woman’s neck.
Confessions of a killer. 20-year-old Michael Durano confesses to killing Conchita Abaga.
In an interview with TV Patrol, Michael also admitted to killing Lola Conchita.
“Ang tingin ko sa kanya, parang baboy kaya ginilitan ko siya,” he says.
“Nung tinanong ko, wala naman daw siyang galit sa matanda,” PO3 Ruiz said. “Actually, in good terms daw po sila nu’ng matanda. Talagang lasing na lasing lang po siya nu’ng araw na ‘yun.”
Michael Durano was then charged with murder at the Manila Regional Trial Court. During the arraignment, Michael pleaded “not guilty”.
Currently, he is detained at the Manila City Jail. ABS-CBN SOCO visited him but he refused to be interviewed.
To date, it’s been almost two years since Lola Conchita was killed. And while the process is slow, her family believes that justice will someday be served for their beloved.