SOCO: Netizens pave way to murder suspect's arrest
Through the joint efforts of the Schnelli family, the Philippine National Police, and concerned netizens, the suspect in the killing of Glaudia Schnelli was finally brought to justice.
"Nanunuot 'yung galit ko sa kanya, bakit niya ginawa sa'min 'yun, wala naman kaming masamang ginawa sa kanila."
These were Virginia Schnelli's words when ABS-CBN SOCO interviewed her about the murder of her daughter, 20-year-old Glaudia.
On December 3, 2010, Glaudia was found dead inside her room, naked and drowning in her own blood. Post-mortem examination showed that the victim sustained 11 stab wounds. There were also signs that she was raped.
(Read more about the Glaudia Schnelli case: SOCO: Former lover murders a woman's daughter)
Through evidence gathered by police and eyewitness accounts, the authorities were able to identify the suspect--a one Felix "Piting" Lasala, a former lover of the victim's mother.
On December 9, 2011, Felix was charged with rape with homicide at the Regional Trial Court Parañaque Branch 257. A warrant for his arrest was immediately issued. Unfortunately, after committing the crime, the suspect went into hiding.
|The victim. 20-year-old Glaudia Schnelli.|
A call from an informant
For two years, Felix was nowhere to be seen. The victim's family utilized all means to find him. They offered a P200,000 bounty to anyone who can give information on the suspect’s whereabouts. They also created a Facebook account dedicated solely to finding justice for Glaudia.
Messages of support poured in. Concerned netizens spread the suspect's photo online, in hope that somebody would recognize him and report his whereabouts to authorities.
|Justice for Glaudia Schnelli. Messages from concerned netizens flooded the wall of the Facebook page created by the victim’s family.|
It was through this account that ABS-CBN SOCO was able to get in touch with the victim's family. On September 1, 2012, ABS-CBN SOCO aired Glaudia's case on television.
"Sobra pong makakatulong itong SOCO para sa aming pamilya dahil wala po masyadong tumutulong sa'min," Glaudia’s brother, Mike, said. "Nagpapasalamat po ako para mabuklat po tong kaso ng ate ko."
The response to the episode was almost immediate.
Two days after Glaudia's story was aired, ABS-CBN SOCO received a phone call from a person who said he had information on the suspect's whereabouts.
"Boy" (not his real name) told SOCO that the suspect was taking refuge in Brgy. Atate, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija and often bumped into him.
"Sa tuwing makikita ko siya, nakayuko, taliwas siyang makipag-usap, hindi siya humaharap. Nakasumbrero siya lagi. Bukod dito, lagi siyang may towel sa ulo niya," Boy said.
It was after he watched ABS-CBN SOCO's episode on Glaudia’s case that he found out that that man was a fugitive.
After receiving the call from Boy, the team of ABS-CBN SOCO immediately got in touch with the victim's mother.
"Nung tumawag kayo na mayroon kayong info, ayun kabado ako," Virginia said. "Para akong kinilabutan."
The SOCO team also coordinated with the Nueva Ecija Police for the immediate apprehension of Felix "Piting" Lasala.
"Tinawagan ako ni Sir Gus Ablegas, naikwento niya 'yung seemingly nandito raw sa area ng Nueva Ecija 'yung suspect sa rape with homicide," Supt. Walter Castillejos of the Nueva Ecija PNP said. "I immediately called the attention of the cops of Cabanatuan, nagpa-create ako ng team sa kanila para tulungan itong team na parating from ABS-CBN."
On September 13, a team from ABS-CBN SOCO went to Cabanatuan City to document the arrest.
The arrest was done quickly, as the suspect barely resisted. He was positively identified by the victim’s mother.
"Nung makita ko siya, pumayat siya, pero kilala ko pa rin siya. Siya talaga," Virginia said. "Gusto ko siyang tanungin bakit niya ginawa 'yun sa anak ko na walang kasalanan, ang bait-bait naman nun sa kanya."
|The arrest. After two years of hiding, Felix "Piting" Lasala was finally apprehended and brought to justice.|
While in detention, ABS-CBN SOCO had the chance to interview Felix, who recounted his version of what happened the night he killed Glaudia.
"Pinagsalitaan niya po ako ng masasakit na salita," Felix said. "Pinagdiliman na po ako ng isip. Pinagmumura niya po ako tungkol sa isang boyfriend ng mama niya, sabi po niya sa akin, 'pag nakita daw niya 'yun, papagalitan daw niya, tapos nung time na 'yun, 'di ko na po alam ang nangyari."
Felix denied raping Glaudia.
"May boyfriend po 'yun, hindi ako," he said. "Parang anak ko na po iyan kasi 'pag may sakit, 'pag may project sa school, may meeting, ako po ang humaharap."
He added that this wouldn't have happened if only Glaudia's mother Virginia treated him fairly.
"Sinabi ko na po sa kaniya na tigilan na niya ang panlalaki niya," Felix said. "Sabi ko, magbago na siya, kung pwedeng baguhin namin ang pagsasama namin na maging maayos."
Eventually, he asked Glaudia’s family for forgiveness.
"Humihingi po ako ng patawad sa kaniya," he said. "Kung bibigyan pa po nila ako ng isa pang pagkakataon, magpapakabuti na po ako, kagaya ng dati. Ako naman po ay matino, makapamuhay na po sana ako nang malaya."
For Virginia, however, mere apologies will never be enough. She will never rest, she said, until Felix is convicted.
In the meantime, she expressed deep gratitude towards everyone who was instrumental in finding justice for her daughter, Glaudia.
"Dun sa nag-inform [kung nasaan si Felix], maraming salamat," she said. "Sa lahat ng pulis na tumulong sa pangyayaring ito, marami pong salamat, sir, sa inyo. Malaking pasasalamat ko sa lahat, lalo na sa SOCO, na ipinalabas [ang kwento ni Glaudia], at maraming tao ang nakakita."