Eleven-year-old Princess Kaylah Penol is a good kid and an obedient daughter. Every time she goes out of the house, she makes it a habit to tell her parents where she’s going.
On February 15, 2011, Kaylah felt sick and asked if she could skip school. An hour later, Kaylah felt better and asked if she could go out and play. Her father, Francisco, let her.
Hours later, Francisco began to worry. It was already 3 p.m. but Kaylah hasn’t come home yet.
“Nagpunta na ‘ko sa nayon, baka kako pumunta sa kanyang kaklase, sa kanyang mga kaibigan, pinagtanong-tanong ko na po,” he said. “Wala po. Umabot na po ng dilim, hindi pa rin nakakauwi ang aking anak na si Kaylah.”
While searching for her, Francisco’s mother-in-law told him that Kaylah went with a group of Badjaos selling jewelry. He panicked, thinking that the group might have kidnapped his daughter. He then enlisted the help of the town councilor, Roland Mercado.
The Penols lived in Bay, Laguna. But Francisco went as far as Tanuan and Santo Tomas, Batangas to find his daughter.
But Kaylah was nowhere to be found. Finally, the family decided to file a report with the Bay Municipal Police Station.
For two days, Kaylah’s family, friends, and neighbors searched for her. To no avail. Until one day, Kaylah’s uncle “Noli” made a revelation—Kaylah visited him in a dream.
In his dream, Kaylah was covered in blood and told him to look for her up in the mountains in Bulalo Tres.
Immediately, Francisco went with a group to look for Kaylah in the mountains.
Re-enactment. In Noli’s dream, the 11-year-old visited him and
told him to look for her in the mountains.
Another one of Kaylah’s uncle, Pedro Helera, joined the search.
At first they thought Noli was lying.
But after a few minutes of searching they finally found the 11-year-old.
“Nakadapa du’n sa ibabaw ng bato, nakataas ang p’wet,” Pedro said. “Ako’y awang-awa sa bata nu’ng makita kong ganoon ang style niya. Ang mga tiyuhin, nag-iyak nang nag-iyak.”
When Francisco saw her daughter, his world began to crumble. “Nagdilim na po ang aking paningin at nawala sa aking sarili,” he said.
Shortly after, a team from the Bay Municipal Police and a group from the Region 4 Scene of Crime Operations arrived to inspect the body.
“Medyo maitim na, nakadapa tapos hubo’t hubad,” Investigator-on-case PO2 Mary Joy Quinio said. “Nabubulok na. Maraming sugat sa katawan, kitang-kita ‘yung stab niya dito sa may neck portion, saka dito sa may tagiliran, saka dito sa may puwet.”
After studying the crime scene, the team from SOCO found several physical evidence — a sando, a pair of shorts with a single guava in the pocket, and a pair of slippers.
Based on initial investigation, authorities suspected that Kaylah was raped.
Crime scene. 11-year-old Kaylah was found dead, naked,
and covered in blood.
Evidence. Several items were found including a sando, a pair of
shorts, and a pair of slippers.
Based on autopsy, Kaylah died due to multiple stab wounds to the head, neck, trunk, and left upper extremity. Bleeding on the head also suggested that she was hit by a blunt object.
The Bay Municipal Police immediately formed a task force to focus on the case.
One of the first people they interrogated was Kaylah’s uncle, Noli, who allegedly dreamt about her and her whereabouts.
During the course of the interrogation, the authories became suspicious of Noli because of his weird behaviour.
Their suspicion strengthened when they discovered various cuts and wounds on his body. Noli explained that he got it from work but authorities didn’t buy it.
After a few more hours of grilling, Noli finally confessed. He said the real perpetrator behind Kaylah’s death was a man named Michael Manalaysay. Immediately, the authorities went to Michael’s house and apprehended him.
Under the influence
Based on Noli’s affidavit, it was 9 a.m. of February 15 when Michael offered him some drugs.
When they were already high, they saw Kaylah and Michael instructed him to get her.
They brought her up the mountain and raped her.
Noli claims that he didn’t want to rape Kaylah but was forced to because Michael was pointing a knife at him the whole time.
After Noli, Michael also raped the girl.
Michael denied the allegations. According to him, he was at home the day the crime happened.
Despite his denial, Michael, 30, and Noli, 17, were both charged with rape with homicide at the Calamba Regional Trial Court Branch 36.
But in an unexpected twist, during the preliminary investigation, Noli retracted his statement and took sole responsibility for the rape and murder of Kaylah.
Noli said he had an old grudge against Michael, that’s why he implicated him.
Noli insisted that he loved his niece. But he was very intoxicated the day he raped and murdered her.
Francisco was shocked. “Hindi ko sukat akalain na ganoon ang mangyayari na siya ang may gawa,” he said.
“Ang tatlo ko pong anak, kapag sila po’y papasok, sila po ang magkakasama, siya ang kasama pagluwas, sa pagtulog. Palagay ang aking loob na si Noli ay hindi mag-iisip nang hindi maganda sa aking anak.”
The case against Michael was dismissed while the case against Noli pushed through though he is a minor.
“Mayroon tayong juvenile justice law na kapag ang mga bata ay 15 pababa, wala silang liability o tinatawag na exemption for criminal libality,” Fiscal George Dee said.
“Pero kapag pataas hanggang 18, ‘pag iyan ay may discernment o tinatawag na alam nila ang mali at ‘di mali, hindi sila exempted sa liability.”
Noli is detained at the Calamba Municipal Jail. And while it would take years before the Penol family would recover from the gruesome death of their Kaylah, they take comfort in the thought that her killer is already behind bars. May 21, 2011