Slain Fil-Am woman's last wish to sister: 'Tell my kids I love them'

Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 29 2021 05:16 PM

SAN DIEGO, California - The family of a Filipina who was stabbed to death by her husband earlier this month hopes her case may inspire action against domestic abuse. 

Rhona Fantone was a dedicated certified nursing assistant at Sharp Coronado Hospital and was on her way to becoming a nurse. 

But even as helped save those battling COVID-19, she couldn't be saved from what authorities and her family believe was a case of domestic abuse. 

"She’s a frontliner. She survived taking care of COVID patients and in general, sick people. But she didn’t survive this tragedy. It's very sad," said her sister Rhoda. 

According to her family, Rhona had been having marital problems with her Filipino-American husband of four years, Jay Barcelon. 

She was planning to spend the night of April 16th at her sister's house and picking up clothes from her home about 15 minutes away, but she never made it back. 

Police said Barcelon had stabbed Rhona to death that evening. 

One of four sisters who immigrated from Zambales, Philippines about 20 years ago, the 30-year-old had two children from a previous relationship. 

But behind Rhona's smile and sense of humor she was also confiding in her family that she and her husband were having marital issues. 

"You never could tell na meron siyang problema (that she had a problem) because she was always smiling. Even at work, they know her for being positive and very energetic, ganon, and very caring sya as a friend (she was very caring as a friend)," said Rhoda. 

Authorities have yet to release details on the events leading up to her death. 

One sister who convoyed with Rhona to her home the night of the tragedy was in her car waiting for her to come out. 

Rhona called her and their other sisters telling them about another conflict that ensued inside their home. 

While the sister who was outside Rhona's home was calling the police, Rhona had this request from Rhoda. 

"I received a call from her. She was telling me to tell her 2 kids that she loves them so much like repeatedly telling me to 'tell my kids I love them so much.' Please tell them, she kept reiterating those words," said Rhoda. 

Police had to force their way into Rhona's home and transported her to the hospital where she died. 

Since her death, a GoFundMe page has raised over $15,000 towards her funeral expenses and for her children who are currently with their biological father. 

Rhona's family hopes her death could push others in similar situations to take action before it's too late. 

"Unfortunately, in this case she rode it out to her death and now everything is being revealed after the fact. We wish we knew before, she still would’ve been here," said her cousin Krissy Flauta. 

Barcelon, a US Navy sailor, was booked into prison and charged with first degree murder, which carriers a sentence of 25 years to life.

He entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment and is expected to return to court next week for a bail hearing. 

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