UPDATE 18: The Philippine Star has a report on the memorial held for Julia in
Ed Morris, Julia’s brother in law, who made the eulogy had this to say: “Julia, you were not one to attempt to influence world events, but today two nations on opposite sides of our world mourn your loss.” Read the article here. John Cutter also has an account on the memorial service.
UPDATE 17: You might want to read our thoughts on Juan Dontogan’s surrender and confession here. Meanwhile, here’s an update from ABS-CBN which, according to Dontogan, is the answer to the question “Why?”: The 25-year old woodcarver said he was on his way to Batad town center last April 8 when he was bumped from behind, causing clothes in a sack he was carrying to be thrown off the mud.
Thinking it was his neighbor with whom he has a running feud, Duntugan bludgeoned the person who bumped him. “It was too late when I saw it was a tourist,” Duntugan said in the vernacular. “Why would I want to hurt a tourist when it is from them that we get our livelihood.”
UPDATE 16 (28 April): Dontogan apologizes for killing Julia Campbell. He says he is ready to face the consequences of the crime he committed. A homicide case will be filed against him. Video of Dontogan under police custody here.
UPDATE 15: Dontogan confesses to killing Campbell. Quote: “I neither planned to kill nor hurt Ms Campbell. Yes, I admit, I killed her. But it never crossed my mind, I never thought of doing whatever it is they think I did. That’s not true.” More here.
UPDATE 14 (27 April): Juan Dontogan turned himself over to police authorities today (3:20 pm). He is currently undergoing tactical interrogation. More here.
Meanwhile, a more detailed examination by police of the earlier pieces of evidence that were hoped to link Dontogan to Campbell’s death yielded negative results. ABS-CBN reports: “Blood spots” earlier reported found on the pants of principal suspect Juan Dontugan and the pestle that probers said could have been used in the killing of Campbell were not actually blood. More here.
UPDATE 13 (26 April): Campbell’s remains cremated this morning. Her ashes will be brought to the U.S. Embassy, then sent to her family in the U.S. More from ABS-CBN.
UPDATE 12 (25 April): Police find Campbell’s camera near the place where she was buried. They hope that photos in the camera will yield clues that could help solve her death. Meanwhile two other kids, who reportedly saw the suspect Juan Dontogan (or Dontugan/Dontungan) with Julia’s bag, are added to the witness list. More here. Campbell’s hat and umbrella were also found inside Dontogan’s house. Policemen speculate that his mother may have hid evidence linking her son to Julia’s death. More here.
Police authorities theorize that more than one person may have attacked Julia based on the results of her autopsy and other pieces of evidence. GMA-7 lists the evidence that have been gathered so far.
Now, although we want whoever is responsible for Julia’s death to be meted the appropriate punishment, it is unfortunate that headline writers are now referring to Dontogan as the killer. (Read here and here.). Maybe he killed Julia. Maybe he did not. He is the prime suspect but it has not yet been established that he indeed killed Julia. In fact, the pieces of evidence that have come out so far would only be considered as circumstantial evidence. They do not really pin him down as the killer. So we hope that the media stop labeling Dontogan as the killer. If, in the future, he is convicted of killing Julia or if he outrightly confesses that he did, then by all means we will all tag him as the killer. But, at this stage, I hope that the media is a little more careful.
Meanwhile, residents of Donsol, Sorsogon where Julia had her first placement in the country recall fond memories of her: “Almost everyone knew and liked her because she was friendly and always smiling. She greeted the people with a smile and a hello. She felt safe here.” Read more here.
UPDATE 11 (23 April): More info on the man the police is now looking for in relation to Campbell’s death: Juan Dontogan (or Dontugan or Dontungan), 25 years old, 5’7″ in height, fair complexion, and medium-built. He is a woodcarver and reportedly also lives in Km. 6, Brgy. Cruz, La-Trinidad Benguet. Source here.
UPDATE 10 (21 April): Initial autopsy results conclude that Julia died due to “multiple blunt traumatic injury to head.” Meanwhile, Grace Dontogan, the wife of the man the police is now trying to find, denies allegations that her husband, Juan, is involved with Julia’s death. She also asks the police to carefully review their evidence which they claim points to her husband. [You can watch a Tagalog newscast on Grace here].
Meanwhile, in a phone interview with GMA-7’s Saksi, Julia’s sister Geary Campbell Morris expresses appreciation for the Filipinos’ outpouring of support for their family. Asked to respond to Sec. Raul Gonzales’ remarks that Julia was careless and irresponsible for going to Banaue alone, Geary says: “Julia was an independent person… walking in a beautiful area. When I saw the pictures initially, I said ‘Why would she not go there?'” Geary also expressed hopes of eventually visiting Banaue to walk where Julia walked.
You can watch the video here. Be warned that in the video, Vicky Morales asks some silly questions (“Does she have a boyfriend?”) or questions that she should have found out in advance (“What prompted her to join the Peace Corps?”). Geeze, Vicky!
UPDATE 9: It turns out that the suspect is not actually under police custody. Our apologies for this error. The problem is that police authorities are not coordinating their communication efforts; practically every one of them is yakking with alacrity and their comments and speculations get reported in the media and are picked up by bloggers like us.
But the following are established: the suspect is a local resident who disappeared after reports of Julia’s disappearance came out, a bloodstained piece of wood (which may or may not be human blood and which may or may not have been used to hit Julia) was recovered from his home, and police authorities are now looking for him and have also asked a Banaue court to issue a search warrant so they could search his home. Read ABS-CBN report here.
Our two cents: We agree with a prosecutor’s assessment here that the police needs to build a stronger case. But the investigation is still in its early stage so its understandable if they have very little to show. We do hope that they will do a thorough job in establishing whether this is an accident, a homicide, or a murder. And that if it is either a homicide or a murder, that the culprit will be brought to justice.
UPDATE 8 (20 April): Suspect, a Batad resident, is now in custody. Police officer: “We recovered a piece of wood with bloodstains at the vicinity of the suspect’s home. We believe that this was the instrument used in hitting Julia.” More here.
Our two cents: We hope that the police is doing a thorough job on this case and is not, as happened in other high profile cases, just arresting people for the sake of presenting a suspect.
UPDATE 7: You might want to read the blogs of people who know Campbell: New Yorkian Afoot (who was with Julia in Sagada before she went to Banaue); Page’s Adventure (her fellow volunteer in Albay); There and Back Again (a PC volunteer’s blog); and My Year of Turning 50 (her co-worker in New York in the 1990’s).
UPDATE 6: The witness earlier mentioned by the police who may be able to shed light on Julia’s death is a thirteen year old boy who reportedly saw a man in the area where Julia’s body was found. The man “allegedly rushed down to a dry creek when he realized the boy had spotted him”. It may not be a very weighty evidence but it is a start. Police authorities are now looking for the man.
UPDATE 5: Oh my God! Now the Philippine Justice Secretary is blaming the victim. Damn! This guy should be fired. This tragedy is embarrassing enough for the country; the last thing we want is a stupid and insensitive quote from a senile government official. Sec. Raul Gonzales, please shut up your shitty mouth!
Gonzales’ stupid quote: “She was a little irresponsible. Why would she walk alone in this remote mountain? I think, it would not have happened. She was careless that she took a lonely walk in this deserted area. Maybe she was confident.” Source: GMA News.
Message to Gonzales: Things like this could happen to anyone even if s/he is the most careful person in the world. Please STFU.
UPDATE 4 (19 April): U.S. embassy officials confirm that the body found in Ifugao is indeed Campbell’s. Campbell is now in Manila and was brought to a funeral parlor for autopsy to determine the cause of her death. She will be flown to the U.S. after the autopsy is conducted. Source: GMANews TV (here and here).
UPDATE 3: Police authorities now have a witness who might be able to shed light on the death of Julia Campbell. Robbery eyed as the most likely motive behind her death. More here.
UPDATE 2: Police authorities confirm that the body found in Ifugao is Campbell’s; it will be airlifted to Manila on Thursday, April 19. Police will now treat the case as a “crime incident”. Police officer: “There is a probability that there was foul play.” Source: AP Report via Forbes.com. Our condolences to Julia’s family.
UPDATE 1 (April 18): Troops find body believed to be Julia Campbell’s. From GMA News:
Army troopers on Wednesday found the body of US Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell in Barangay Battad, Banaue town in Ifugao province.
In a text message to reporters, 5th Infantry Division chief Maj. Gen. Rodrigo Maclang said that Campbell’s body was found around 10:30 a.m.
No other details were immediately made available. Read more here.
OUR FIRST POST: We’re posting this in case some of our readers from Ifugao would have, by any chance, any helpful information regarding this missing Peace Corps volunteer.
From ABS-CBN News:
A volunteer for the United States Peace Corps (USPC) had gone missing while hiking in Ifugao Province, ABS-CBN News reported Friday. The US embassy in Manila is seeking assistance and any information that would lead to the whereabouts of Julia Campbell. It added that a reward is being offered to anyone who may have details of her location.
Campbell, who served as a college teacher in Legazpi City, Albay since she began her USPC service in the country in March 2005, was last seen Sunday (April 8) in Banaue, Ifugao province. The 40-year-old Caucasian American stands 5’7″, sports a blonde hair and wears eyeglasses.
The embassy said she intended to hike alone near Batad, 1.5 kilometers east of Banaue town. It was not clear whether the US embassy had sought the help of the Philippine government to locate Campbell.
Anyone who has seen Campbell may contact John Borja, Safety and Security Officer of the Peace Corps-Philippines at 0920-900-5270 or contact the US embassy in Manila at (02) 528-6300.
If I am not mistaken, Julia Campbell has a blog here. Like other blogs written by Peace Corps volunteers, her blog is very interesting because it presents the perspective of a non-Filipino trying to live the ordinary Filipino life. We hope she is okay.
RELATED POST: Video Updates on the Campbell Case.