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'Mastermind' nabbed

First Posted 10:04:00 01/29/2009

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She was first floated as a state witness.

Now the close friend of the slain call center agent is being accused as the mastermind.

Jonelle Enfectana, 26, was arrested yesterday and would face charges as a principal suspect in the murder of Lynn-vi Ebarita whose body was found stashed inside a garbage bag in a hotel room in Mandaue City last week.

The police were also looking for three men and a woman who were believed to be the ones who stabbed Ebarita 24 times allegedly on orders of Enfectana. Their identities were withheld in order not to jeopardize the ongoing investigation although police said they may have been hired to perpetrate the crime.

But Michael Enriquez, the suspect's lawyer, planned to question the arrest in court since it was conducted in the absence of an arrest warrant.

His client, he added, also ?denied participation whatsoever in the murder? of Ebarita.

Chief Insp. Eddie Recamara, head of the Investigation and Detection Management Bureau (IDMB) of the Mandaue police, said they have sufficient evidences to prove that Enfectana planned the killing of Ebarita because of envy. The police also found out that Ebarita was the co-maker of the loan availed by Enfectana last year.

One of these evidences include Ebarita's wallet that the police investigators found inside Enfectana's rented room on Floremer Street, barangay Banilad, Mandaue City.

The wallet still contained the victim's identification cards issued by TeleTech Customer Care Center and Philhealth Insurance, among others. The police believed that Enfectana took the wallet after the victim was killed inside Nikkei Garden Hotel.

But Enriquez said they would check the evidences and how these were acquired. ?We will wait and we will confront the evidences as soon as it would be presented in Court.?

Ebarita and Enfectana were close friends and both worked in TeleTech Customer Care Center along AS Fortuna Street, Mandaue.

Ebarita was a second level agent of TeleTech with a rank of Pier 2 and was the senior officer of Enfectana. Both belonged to the same department at the business process outsourcing firm.

Teletech employees described Ebarita and Enfectana as outgoing who would go out with their friends late at night.

Ebarita, 26, was drinking with her friends in the evening of Jan. 18 at the peak of the Sinulog festivities. She received a call past midnight and was told to go to Nikkei Garden Hotel.

Last Jan. 22, her naked body was found inside a black garbage bag by hotel attendants who were looking for the source of a foul odor.

A day after her remains were found, police investigators said Enfectana called them up and provided them information about the victim.

But the investigators started to get suspicious.

Enfectana was asked to go to the Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) last Monday.

She was shown the transcript of the online chat session with Ebarita that showed she knew the three men whom the victim was supposed to meet on Jan. 19.

The session was cut short at 5 p.m. when Enfectana's mother had difficulty breathing and was brought to the hospital.

On Tuesday morning, Enfectana told investigators that she knew about the killing because she introduced to Ebarita the three men at the hotel. She told her that the three were her townmates in Eastern Visayas.

Her confession was not signed because she too was brought to the hospital after she complained of difficulty in breathing.

In the evening, she recanted her statement with the assistance of her lawyer Enriquez and said she did not know anything about the killing.

The MCPO investigators went to Enfectana's boarding house and retrieved some pieces of evidence, including the victim's wallet.

Convinced that they had enough evidence against the suspect, they went to the Mandaue City Hospital to arrest Enfectana despite the absence of an arrest warrant.

Recamara said the arrest was legal because it was done through a hot pursuit operation. He said that since the discovery of the crime last week, they did not stop going after the suspects.

?Those were sleepless nights,? the police official said.

Recamara assured that the procedures were followed and that they had strong evidence against the suspect.

He said they did not arrest the suspect when she confessed her participation to the crime since the police did not have any evidence against her. Yet, he added, she recanted her statement.

It took the MCPO operatives three hours to effect the arrest after Enfectana's aunt and mother tried to stop them from bringing her to the MCPO headquarters where she was detained.

The police arrived in the hospital about 2 p.m. but were able to effect Enfectana?s arrest past 3 p.m. As the police prepared to escort her, Enfectana was heard shouting from her room ?Hain si lawyer, hain ang akong lawyer (Where is my lawyer? Where is my lawyer? ? Her mother and aunt then blocked the authorities from grabbing her.

They only let go of Enfectana after the mother suffered a hypertensive attack.

Lawyer Enriquez told the police to register all her belongings before she could be escorted out of the hospital. The police agreed.

Enriquez was also seen talking with Supt. Bernard Tamboan, MCPO head for operations, in one of the hospital rooms.

Enfectana covered her face with a handkerchief while she was escorted out of the government hospital at 5:48 p.m. and was later on brought to the MCPO headquarters, about 50 meters away. When the suspect arrived, the IDMB office was later on sealed off from the media.

A press conference was held past 6 p.m. where Recamara announced that a murder complaint would be filed againstEnfectana for the killing of Ebarita.

He said the murder was carried out by the three men who he said could be hired killers from Eastern Visayas. A woman checked in to the hotel room where Ebarita was killed.

The MCPO was coordinating with the Police Regional Office in Eastern Visayas based in Tacloban City, Leyte to help them verify the names floated by the witnesses who saw Enfectana get into the hotel.

Enriquez, who was in the same press conference, said they would question the arrest in court as his client denied having a hand in the killing.

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