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Pastor's wife found dead

First Posted 10:28:00 02/19/2009

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Ten days after she was reported kidnapped, the wife of a pastor was found dead yesterday in a vacant lot in the mountain barangay of Tabunan, Cebu City.

The decomposing body of Judith Jastiva was found by a resident grazing his goat in sitio Cantipla Uno.

She was naked and her features were difficult to recognize because of the decay.

Police have not yet established how she died or whether she was raped.

The pastor, Leonardo Jastiva, identified his wife through her scars in the left knee from a a motorcycle accident a few months ago.

According to police, he confirmed that the clothes found near the site were the same ones worn by Judith when she was abducted on the road by car-riding men last Feb. 9 in barangay Labangon, Cebu City.

Black sandals, a red T-shirt with a guitar design in front, a black skirt and underwear were found near the body.

Also found at the site were a dog chain, condoms, and bottles of energy drinks.

The pastor said he received text messages Tuesday night informing him that his wife was already dead and could be found in sitio Cantipla Uno.

He forwarded the message, purportedly from the kidnappers, to Senior Insp. George Ylanan, Criminal Investigation and Detective Management of the Cebu City Police Office.

Police had earlier expressed strong doubts about the pastor?s complaint of kidnapping because he declined to sign a sworn statement and no witnesses were found to confirm his story.

No ransom demand for the wife was also reported.

The 42-year-old pastor had cited death threats he received allegedly from members of a rival faction of his church and said he didn?t want to press charges if this would assure the safe return of his wife.

He said he and his wife were riding his motorbike bound for Talisay City past 8 p.m. on Feb. 9 when their path was blocked by a blue Mitsubishi Lancer sedan.

Armed men allegedly got out, chained him to his motorcycle and then dragged his wife into the car.

He described seeing one of the men kiss the neck of his wife while laughing aloud to mock him, before Judith was forced into the car.

Leonardo, president of the International Missionary Society of the 7th Day Adventist Reform Movement, accused members of a rival group, the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement, of being behind the kidnapping of his wife.

Police said the pastor?s story had several inconsistencies. They found it unlikely that it took 30 minutes for a passing motorist to notice Leonardo tied up next to his motorcycle when the road in Labangon was usually heavy with traffic at 8 p.m.

Last Tuesday night, Leonardo forwarded to the police a text message believed sent by his wife?s abductors.

Police immediately scoured sitio Cantipla Uno but did not find anything.

Unknown to the police official, Leonardo also went to Cantipla Uno in an attempt to find his wife. What he found was his wife's black jacket.

Yesterday morning, Leonardo said he received another text message. This time, it contained details on where to find Judith. He forwarded the message again to Ylanan.

Before Ylanan sent a team to check out the information, the CCPO?s homicide section received a report from policemen assigned at a detachment in Cantipla Uno that a body was found by a resident.

Alfonso Diacoma said he was grazing his goat when he stumbled upon the woman?s decomposing body on a grassy lot, said SPO3 Rey Cuyos, homicide section investigator.

Diacoma told the barangay Tabunan officials who in turned alerted the police.

The body was found in an area about 50 meters from the road and far from households.

Policemen took the clothes and other items found near the body to the police crime laboratory for examination. It still has to be determined whether the victim was killed in the area or was just dumped there.

An autopsy is scheduled today at the St. Francis Funeral Homes in Talisay City where the body was transferred from Cebu Rolling Hills Memorial Chapel in Mandaue City.

Leonardo yesterday refused to talk to reporters. His church members surrounded him as he walked out of the funeral parlor to a nearby vehicle.

A staffer at the Cebu Rolling Hills Memorial Chapel told that Leonardo was upset by media reports that the police doubted his wife?s abduction was real.

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