OLONGAPO - Police have identified the US Marine being linked to the murder of a transgender woman in Olongapo City last Saturday.
Police identified the suspect as PFC Joseph Scott Pemberton.
A Navytimes.com report earlier said the US Marine is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The infantry unit is currently in the Philippines for a joint training exercise.
The US Embassy in Manila earlier confirmed that a US Marine is a suspect in the murder of Jeffrey Laude alias Jennifer. It also expressed condolences to the family and friends of Laude.
"A U.S. Marine has been identified as a possible suspect in the ongoing investigation. The suspected Marine is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He is being held onboard USS Peleliu while a joint Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Philippine National Police investigation is conducted," the embassy said.
"The United States will continue to fully cooperate with Philippine law enforcement authorities in every aspect of the investigation."
The body of Jeffrey Laude alias Jennifer was found by hotel staff late Saturday, less than an hour after the victim checked into a room with an unidentified blonde male suspect.
The "foreigner" with Laude had close-cropped hair, was of medium build, and "casually" walked out of the hotel later without settling his bill, prompting hotel staff to check the room, police investigator Mary Ann Sadaba told AFP.
Based on the initial investigation of the Olongapo police, Laude's neck was pressed down on the toilet seat, while her head was being shoved into the toilet bowl.
Two used condoms were also found in the garbage can inside the hotel room.
There were no signs of a struggle in the bedroom and Laude's belongings were complete.
Police are now looking at two motives behind the killing.
One -- The foreigner could have found out that Laude was a transgender. However, authorities doubt this theory because of the used condoms discovered in the room.
Another theory of investigators is Laude could have tried to steal from the foreigner.
The LGBT group Ladlad said there is no justification for the killing.
"Baka niloko daw ni Jennifer yung Amerikano. Sa akin naman walang deception na nangyari. She was living her life, and hindi ito lisensya para pumatay ng tao," Santy Layno, Ladlad Board of Trustees member, said.
The Presidential Commission on the Visiting Forces Agreement, meanwhile, assured the Laude family of justice.
"Sa pamilya po ni Jennifer Laude, we're expressing our deepest sympathy. At nandun na din po ang assurance ng ating pamahalaan ganun din po ang pamahalaan ng Amerika that we will work closely together to ensure that justice is served," said Gen. Eduardo Oban, executive director of the PCVFA. With a report by Agence France-Presse