MANILA (UPDATED) – The suspect in the kidnapping and rape-slay of an 8-year-old girl in Nueva Ecija shot himself using a policeman’s gun in Camp Crame Tuesday night, police said.
Larry Herrera, 50, was pronounced dead by Philippine National Police General Hospital doctors at around 11 p.m., according to PNP Anti-Kidnapping Group Supt. Arthur Masungsong.
Herrera was earlier arrested by the Philippine National Police Anti Kidnapping Group (PNP-AKG) and Palawan police.
He admitted kidnapping, raping, and killing an 8-year-old girl in Jaen, Nueva Ecija on July 19.
Authorities said Herrera was immediately rushed to the PNP General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Investigators are currently processing the scene.
The victim's remains were found in an irrigation field in Jaen, Nueva Ecija on Monday. She was still in her school uniform and showed signs of strangulation.
The victim's grandmother said she asked their driver to bring her to school around 6:30 a.m.
Witnesses said a man who was on a bicycle fetched the girl from school. The girl was not seen by her teacher and classmates since then.
"Ang unang takot, nawala, pero ang instinct baka na-kidnap, pero ang sabi niya kahit siguro wala pang demand, mabuti nang aksiyunan namin," PNP-AKG director Sr. Supt. Glenn Dumlao said.
The PNP-AKG was looking into Herrera, a carpenter recently hired by the family, as a person of interest, when he abruptly left for his hometown in Palawan after the incident.
"Pinatanong namin kung sino ang mga tao sa bahay nila na pumupunta sa kanila. Nasabi lang niya itong si Larry Herrera, 'yung suspek natin ngayon. Larry na nagkakarpintero sa kanila, kinabahan kami. Tinanong namin ngayon kung nasaan. Ang sabi niya hinatid ng madaling araw, pupunta raw ng Palawan, kami ay kinutuban, hinanap namin, at kung may cell phone number, na-track na namin ang movement niya," Dumlao said.
Witnesses told authorities that they saw Herrera and the victim in a cemetery in San Isidro.
Authorities recovered the girl's school bag, a condom, and even the receipt of the condom in the area.
The AKG immediately went to the drugstore in Cabanatuan and accessed their CCTV video wherein they saw the suspect with the girl on a jeepney.
CCTV footage also showed the suspect buying a condom in the drugstore and even seemed to ask something from the guard. The girl was also seen peeking into the door of the drugstore. Then the suspect paid for the condom and left the drugstore.
Police immediately arrested Herrera in Palawan where the suspect admitted to the crime.
Herrera said he brought the victim to the cemetery and raped her there, according to police.
"Kinuha ko po siya sa eskuwelahan at sinabihan ko po siya na tawag ka ng lola kalbo mo sa kanto. Natakot po akong makauwi ang bata at maisumbong ako, kaya lahat naisip kong paraan para hindi na makabalik ang bata sa pamilya," Herrera confessed.
Jaen police chief Insp. Joel Dela Cruz said, "Natagpuan sa cemetery yung gamit ng bata at condom."
"Nag-Cabanatuan, they went back sa San Antonio then pumunta sa San Isidro doon sa sementeryo. From there noong na-rape niya, in-strangle niya to death ang bata, itinapon sa irigasyon," Dumlao said.
Authorities also found the girl's hair accessory inside the nipa hut.
Police discovered that Herrera was imprisoned for 14 years in Iwahig Penal Colony for qualified theft and was out on parole. The victim's family gave him a job as a carpenter thinking he would change for good.
"Dahil karpintero siya, nakikita raw ng ina ng bata na binibilhan bilhan niya ng pagkain, ng gamit so may pangitain na," Dumlao said.
The PNP-AKG warned the public to remain vigilant and watch over their children.
"Tingnan natin ang background ng nga ini-employ natin na kasama niya sa bahay, second i-monitor natin ang anak natin. Madaling ma-condition ng mga unsuspecting na strangers. Dapat i-monitor natin ang movement ng mga bata," Dumlao said.