Around 10 p.m. on February 28, 2012, a distraught boy arrived at the Martin residence in Barangay Palimbo Proper, Camiling, Tarlac.
It was Richard (not his real name), the boyfriend of Leo and Cristy’s 18-year-old daughter, Mary Cris. According to Richard, Mary Cris was in danger.
“Tara na auntie, puntahan natin, sabi niya,” Cristy recalled. “Parang awa niyo na, aniya. Ako naman, hindi ko maintindihan kung nadisgrasya o ano.”
Richard said that at that moment, Mary Cris was being raped. Flustered and confused, the Martin family rushed to the place where Richard said he left Mary Cris. Cristy, meanwhile, felt the energy drain from her body.
“Nagpaiwan ako dun sa may tricycle sa may highway,” she said. “Tapos pumasok sila sa irrigation para maghanap kasi hindi ko kayang tumayo eh, parang ninerbyos ako, nanghihina, hindi ko maintindihan. Kahit na ganun na sinasabing ni-rape, alam ko buhay ‘yung anak ko.”
Leo and Richard went to the exact spot where the latter said he left Mary Cris. But she wasn’t there anymore. One of the people who helped with the search was Maximo Martin, Mary Cris’s uncle. When he went further into the area, he found a body lying face down on the dirt. One of Mary Cris’s cousins tried to revive her through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but it didn’t work. Mary Cris was dead.
|The victim: 18-year-old Mary Cris Martin
Strangled to death
The family notified the authorities. Upon arrival, they immediately inspected the crime scene.
“Ang naabutan naming itsura ng biktima ay nakahiga siya, tapos ‘yung pantalon, nakababa. Atsaka ‘yung upper garment, medyo nakataas siya.” SPO3 Teddy Martin, Chief Investigator of the Camiling, Tarlac PNP said. “Pero ‘yung kanyang underwear, intact pa rin. Ibig sabihin, may magaganap talaga na panghahalay.”
|The crime scene
Based on initial investigation, the victim was possibly drowned at the irrigation reservoir.
“Kasi ‘yung katawan ng biktima, pati ‘yung mga damit, basa talaga nung naabutan namin,” SPO3 Martin said. “Dahil wala kaming nakitang anumang palatandaan na siya’y tinaga, sinaksak, o pinukpok man lamang. Nang ma-determine namin na wala na talagang buhay ang biktima, nagpatawag na po kami ng tulong sa SOCO.”
Upon arrival, the SOCO operatives began collecting evidence on site. Among the items found were a pair of men’s underwear, two pairs of slippers—one of which belonged to the victim, and a black cap.
Based on post-mortem examination, the victim died due to asphyxia and not drowning like the authorities first thought. According to the medico-legal officer, Mary Cris was strangled first before she was dumped into the irrigation reservoir. There were also no signs that the victim was raped.
“Ang sakit ng pagkamatay niya,” the victim’s mother, Cristy, said. “Ang hirap niyang namatay. Gusto ko man rin lang sanang patayin o kaya i-ano ko na lang ang buhay ko para lang maibsan ang sakit na nararamdaman ng anak kong namatay. Ako na lang sana ang namatay.”
|A mother’s anguish: “Ako na lang sana ang namatay,” the victim’s mother said.
Lover or murderer?
At that time, the authorities already had one suspect in mind—the victim’s boyfriend, Richard.
“’Pag huli kang nakasama [ng biktima], talagang ikaw ang prime suspect lalung-lalo na at walang testigo o walang aktwal na nakakita doon sa krimen, SPO3 Martin said.
“[Si Richard] ang nagsabi, siya ang unang nag-report doon sa mga magulang ng biktima na kanyang girlfriend.”
Even the victim’s parents suspected Richard.
“Eh siyempre pinagdudahan ko ang boyfriend niya,” Leo said. “Eh kung hindi sila pumunta diyan eh di hindi sana nangyari.”
But when the authorities interrogated Richard, he vehemently denied involvement in the crime. ABS-CBN SOCO was able to interview him. And according to him, it was their anniversary that night.
“Palagi po kaming pumupunta doon, sa may mangga po,” he said. “Nagpapalipas-oras po kami. [Noong gabing iyon], pumunta kami doon ng 9:30 p.m.”
Richard said they were getting intimate when they were startled by a man on a bike who was passing by. The two scrambled to fix their clothes, worried that they might be seen.
“Hawak po ni Mary Cris ‘yung underwear [ko],” Richard said. Inaabot po niya sa akin pero sabi ko, mamaya na. Pinaandar ko na po ang motor ko. Sabi ko, sumakay ka na sa akin. Pero sabi niya, mauna ka na sa highway. Parang nahihiya po kasi kakilala niya ‘yung dumaan.”
Richard waited by the highway. Minutes passed but Mary Cris did not appear.
“Tumawag na lang ako sa cellphone niya para tanungin kung nasaan siya,” Richard said. “Pero ang sabi niya, ‘Bumalik ka dito, nire-rape ako’ tapos naputol na po ‘yung usapan. Tapos may narinig na po akong sigaw sa may bukid. Dali-dali ko pong pinaandar ang motor ko at pumunta sa pinangyarihan.”
He did not see Mary Cris, but found only her slippers. That’s when he rushed to Mary Cris’s home to call her parents.
A second suspect
Despite his explanation, the authorities continued to suspect Richard.
“Maaari ang motibo ng pamamaslang ay nag-away sila o nagkaroon sila ng 'di pagkakaunawaan o 'di naman kaya, baka gustong pilitin, tumatanggi ‘yung babae,” SPO3 Martin said.
Richard also admitted that the underwear found at the crime scene was his. There was also a pair of man’s slippers found at the site. But when they asked Richard to wear them, they were too big for his feet.
Because of this, the authorities began searching for a second suspect and tried to trace the identity of the passerby the night the crime happened.
As it turns out, according to Richard, the passerby was Mary Cris’s uncle, Ferdinand Martin. The authorities immedately invited the latter for questioning.
“Pagdating niya dito [sa presinto], itinanggi na niya ang partisipasyon niya sa krimen,” SPO3 Martin said. “Pilit niyang pinasisinungalingan at paulit-ulit na wala raw siyang alam at hindi niya raw kayang patayin dahil ang biktima ay kanyang kamag-anak.”
But the evidence showed otherwise. Ferdinand’s relatives confirmed that the black cap and pair of slippers found at the crime scene belonged to him. The authorities also noticed bits of mud on the suspect’s legs.
“Kaya nagkaroon kami ng hinala kasi ‘yung crime scene, putikan,” SPO3 Martin said. “Kaya maaaring mag-iwan talaga ng marka sa sinumang umapak sa putikan na ‘yun. Kaya doon kami naghinala na si Ferdinand Martin ay may kinalaman sa krimen.”
Later on, Ferdinand confessed to the murder.
Confessions of a killer
According to Ferdinand, on the night of February 28, he saw Mary Cris walking towards the highway, alone. When he saw her, he was overwhelmed by anger. Ferdinand said he was mad at Mary Cris’s family because they kept accusing him of stealing their animals.
He approached her and strangled her.
Ferdinand claimed that Mary Cris even tried to seduce him so that he would not kill her. But he kept strangling her instead.
Because of his confession, Ferdinand Martin was charged with murder at the Tarlac Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.
|Confessions of a killer: Ferdinand Martin confessed to killing his 18-year-old niece, Mary Cris Martin
While his case is being tried at Branch 68 of the Camiling, Tarlac Regional Trial Court, Ferdinand is currently detained at the Bureau of Jail and Management Penology detention center in Camiling.
Meanwhile, Mary Cris’s family is yet to move on from the pains of their loss.
“Kadugo niya eh, bakit dinali pa?” Mary Cris’s father, Leo, said. “Kumukulo ang dugo ko sa kanya. Hindi ko siya mapapatawad. Kahit magbayad siya, hindi ko na makikita ang anak ko.”
Aired on July 21, 2012