MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Police have confirmed that the burned body found in Barangay Buliran, Cabanatuan City is that of missing car dealer Venson Evangelista.
Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona, deputy chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said Evangelista's dental records matched with the findings of the dental pathology done by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Lab.
His father, Arsenio 'Boy' Evangelista, also positively identified his son earlier in Cabanatuan City.
Estipona said that the charred body was discovered in an irrigation canal in Cabanatuan City last January 14 (Friday).
He said that with this latest development, the theory that Evangelista and Emerson Lozano were abducted and killed by the same criminal group has gained credence.
The burned bodies of the younger Lozano and his driver, Ernane Sensil, were found in Pampanga and Tarlac, respectively.
Evangelista and Lozano were second-hand car sellers. Both of them disappeared after going on a test drive with prospective buyers.
Estipona said that because of the similarities in the manner of killing and disposing of the bodies, it his highly possible that only one group is responsible.
With this, Estipona said he has ordered the special investigation task groups separately probing the 2 cases to merge.
The elder Evangelista and the rest of the family went to Nueva Ecija on Tuesday to check the charred remains. He meticulously checked the remains, until his younger son, Meynard, started to cry.
He said that the first time he saw the cadaver's burned face, he knew it was his missing son but he decided to hide the hunch pending scientific confirmation from the police.
"One-hundred percent positive ako. Sa picture pa lang na-identify ko na," the elder Evangelista said.
Police now have an artist’s sketch of the 2 men who posed as buyers of the car.
The elder Evangelista said that his son's kidnappers and killers inquired about a second-hand Toyota Land Cruiser through phone.
On January 13 (Wednesday), he said the supposed buyer and a mechanic went to their showroom in Cubao, Quezon City.
He said that even before the supposed buyer arrived, he told his son, Venson, not to allow the prospective customers to test drive the vehicle.
His son, however, was convinced by the 2 suspects to allow them to test drive the vehicle.
He added that his son could have sensed that there was something wrong because of his body language during the time, according to the victim's wife and their employee.
The elder Evangelista said the supposed buyer was pretending to be a transvestite. He said the buyer was in a lady dress and was wearing 2-inch-heeled shoes.
He said his worker was able to describe what the suspects looked like.
The victim's father earlier said that he identified the 2 suspects from the police's rogues' gallery, and he was informed that the suspects had been arrested for carnapping but were out on bail.
The elder Evangelista also repeatedly urged lawmakers to impose stiffer penalties for carnapping, which is a bailable offense.
Meanwhile, the police official said that a concerned citizen has pledged a P500,000 reward for the person who could give police information that would lead to the arrest of the car dealers' killers.
Chief Superintendent Allan Purisima, Central Luzon regional police director, told radio dzMM earlier that he deployed a number of intelligence operatives to gather news about newly-delivered Toyota Land Cruiser and Kia Carnival van in a town in Pampanga.
Lozano went missing with the Kia Carnival owned by his employer while Evangelista took a Toyota Land Cruiser to a test drive with his killers.
"Hinahanap pa ang mga sasakyan. Sa Pampanga, may notorious na lugar dito. Ito ang minamanmanan doon. Nag-deploy na ako ng maraming tao doon para makibalita," Purisima said.
He said several groups engaged in carnapping are based in Pampanga and some parts of Central Luzon.
Meanwhile, the police's Highway Patrol Group (HPG) said the notorious Dominguez carjacking group may be involved in the killings.
Superintendent Edwin Butacan, HPG spokesman, said that the leaders of the group -- siblings Roger and Raymond Dominguez -- have been arrested, but both are currently out on bail.
Butacan said that the Dominguez group is responsible for a string of carjacking cases in Metro Manila and parts of Central Luzon. – with reports from Alex Santos and Gus Abelgas, ABS-CBN News