NBI conducts own autopsy on artist Bree Jonson

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2021 02:40 PM | Updated as of Sep 23 2021 04:19 PM

NBI to also do psychological autopsy

MANILA (UPDATE) — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conducted Thursday its own autopsy on the body of painter Bree Jonson, who died in La Union on Saturday.

NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin said the autopsy was conducted from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. Specimens taken will undergo laboratory examinations.

“[We] will also ask PNP to share with us other pieces of evidence as they were the first responders at the scene of the crime,” Lavin said in a text message to the media.

“Crime Scene Investigation Team (Forensics) motored to La Union this morning to process the crime scene thereat,” he added.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirmed the NBI autopsy.

"NBI forensic experts conducted a second autopsy this morning. Results are being carefully reviewed," he said in a message.

Lavin said the autopsy was done upon the request of Jonson's family.

Lawyers from the Sunga, Salandanan and Ampuan Law Offices, who represent the Jonson family, earlier said in a statement that the NBI would conduct an autopsy. 

They have yet to receive a final and conclusive autopsy report on Jonson and the medico-legal report on the arm injuries of Julian Ongpin, the last person seen with Jonson.

Police Regional Office 1 director Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Peralta told ANC Headstart Wednesday that Jonson died of asphyxia and tested positive for cocaine use. 

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There were also ligature marks on Jonson but it was not clear if these were self-inflicted, he added.

According to Peralta, Ongpin told police that Jonson committed suicide. But Jonson’s mother Salome refuses to believe this claim, nor the idea that her daughter died due to drug overdose.

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Salome told ANC Headstart on Tuesday that she had doubts about the injuries on Ongpin's arm.

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Peralta said Ongpin claimed these came from nails when he supposedly went through the room's window.


Lavin said the bureau would also do a psychological autopsy as it probes Jonson's death. 

According to Lavin, the NBI's Behavioral Sciences Division would conduct interviews with friends and family members of Jonson in a bid to get her background and profile.

They are also tracking down Jonson and Ongpin's companions the night before her death. 

It plans to get a statement from Ongpin after collecting statements from witnesses, said Lavin.

Part of the investigation is determining also the source of the drugs found in the resort room where Jonson died. 


Jonson's lawyers, with the PNP and the NBI, reviewed the CCTV footage at the hostel which supposedly showed Jonson and Ongpin in a “heated altercation minutes before she was found unconscious in their hotel room.”

It also showed Ongpin trying to get into the comfort room of their hostel room through the window using a ladder. 

A hostel staff arrived later, and Jonson's body could be seen from the lobby's CCTV.

She was brought to a hospital where she was declared dead upon arrival.

Jonson's lawyers questioned the La Union prosecutor's decision to release Ongpin despite the presence of the corpus delicti (body of the crime) and him being the only possible suspect. 

Police also said they recovered 12 grams of cocaine from the hostel room.

Jonson's lawyers added that based on the initial medico-legal report, there were "signs of struggle."

"There were bruises found in some other parts of Breanna's body other than her neck," they said.

Guevarra said "the possible transfer of the [Jonson] case to the DOJ head office for the conduct of preliminary investigation by state prosecutors is now under consideration." 

But he refused to comment further "to avoid prejudging the case."

Ongpin underwent inquest for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act. But the La Union prosecutor ordered his release, saying it was not a proper case of warrantless arrest and decided to hold a preliminary investigation instead.

There was no explanation made as to why Ongpin was released despite being caught in possession of 12 grams of cocaine, a non-bailable offense under the same law.

--- With reports from Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News