The year 2010 was a very sad phase in the life of 12-year-old Louise Ann Maceda, better known by her nickname, Adeng. That was the year her parents separated.
Her mother, Mary Grace Maceda, had to go to Hong Kong to work so she can provide for their family. Adeng and her younger sister were left in the care of their grandmother, Lola Magdalena. Lola Magdalena assumed the role of both parents for the two children.
“Alas tres pa lang ng umaga, nagpapainit na ‘kong tubig para makaligo [sila],” she said. “Kahit madilim pa inihahatid ko sila sa eskwelahan, sinusundo.”
The year after, everything changed once again. This time, for the better. Mary Grace went home from Hong Kong. Adeng was elated. She had her mother back. More than that, she gained a father in the form of her mother’s new boyfriend.
Lola Magdalena noticed the shift of the atmosphere in their home. The children smiled more and her daughter seemed to be deeply in love. Because of that, she heartily approved of Mary Grace's new boyfriend, Gerry Azarcon.
“Masigasig siya,” Lola Magdalena said. “Kaya nga ho napalapit ‘yung mga bata sa kaniya dahil mabait.”
But, alas, the situation was only temporary. Mary Grace heard rumors that Gerry was having an affair with other women and decided to end their relationship. She immediately flew back to Hong Kong and the children were once again left in the care of their grandmother.
Little did they know that this incident would lead to a tragedy in the family.
The disappearance of Adeng
Around 2:00 p.m. of December 25, 2011, Adeng asked her grandmother if she could go around the neighborhood to ask for some Christmas gifts and food.
“Nung umagang ‘yun, ‘di alam mo naman Pasko, ‘di pinapabayaan lang namin kasi namamasko,” Lola Magdalena said. “Ang alam namin, nandiyan lang siya namamasko dahil maaga pa.”
But when evening came and Adeng didn't come home, Lola Magdalena began to worry.
“Nagluluto pa ako. Nung makakain na kami, nagulat ako wala pa si Adeng,” she said. “Kasi ‘pag Pasko, talagang alas syete pa lang, nandito na lahat sa bahay.”
They went around the neighborhood looking for Adeng, but she was nowhere to be found. They even went to her father’s house, but she wasn’t there. Lola Magdalena then decided to inform her daughter in Hong Kong about what was happening.
When they still couldn’t find Adeng, they enlisted the help of barangay officials. Unfortunately, they could only start looking if a child has been missing for 12 hours.
This didn’t stop Lola Magdalena. She continued to search for Adeng in the dead of the night. But when morning came, she still had not found the 12-year-old.
|The search for Adeng. 12-year-old Louise Ann Maceda, better known by her nickname, “Adeng”.
A grandmother’s worst nightmare
It was still early in the morning when Lola Magdalena resumed her search for Adeng. She bumped into Randy, not his real name, one of the young men from their neighborhood.
According to Randy, he saw Adeng at the nearby hill the night before.
“Pagdating namin dun sa bundok, itinuro niya kung saan niya nakita,” Lola Magdalena recounted. “Nagulat kami nung nakita namin ‘yung tsinelas atsaka ‘yung mga damo wala na, tumba na talaga.”
They went further into the denser part of the hill and what they saw next confirmed Lola Magdalena’s worst nightmare--Adeng’s lifeless body.
“Talagang bumagsak ako,” she says. “Wala na akong malay nun. Hila-hila ako ng anak ko.”
|The crime scene. 12-year-old Louise Ann “Adeng” Maceda’s body was found in a part of a hill in their neighborhood that was thick with vegetation.
The Caloocan City PNP were immediately notified.
“’Yung unang bumungad dun ‘yung pares ng tsinelas,” investigator-on-case SPO1 Noli Albis of the Caloocan City PNP recounted. “Tapos nung nagtuluy-tuloy na kami dun sa parang bukid na ‘yun, dun na naming nakita ‘yung bangkay ng isang babae na wala nang damit pang ibaba. Para siyang luray-luray.”
They believed that the killer intended to dump the body over a nearby cliff but failed to.
While processing the crime scene, they recovered a pair of men's slippers which they believed may have belonged to the killer.
Based on post-mortem examination, the victim died due to strangulation and a blow to her head. There were also telltale signs that she was raped.
Further into the investigation, the authorities discovered that someone actually witnessed the murder of Adeng. It was none other than Randy.
According to Randy, he didn’t come forward right away because he feared for his life. Eventually, he recounted to the police everything he witnessed on the night of December 25, 2011.
“Nagkukwentuhan po kami nun. Tas umakyat po kami nun, dun na lang kami nagkwentuhan [sa bundok] kasi maingay po sa baba,” he said. “May narinig akong kaluskos. Meron pong naiyak. Sabi, ‘Tama na, tama na. ‘Di ko na kaya.’ Umiiyak siya. Kinakaladlad po siya.”
Randy looked for the source of the noise. When he was able to locate it, he was shocked to see what seemed to be a rape in progress. Randy rushed to tell his companions. When they went back, the man and the girl had moved some distance away from where they originally were. Randy saw the man look at him.
“Nakita niya ko,” Randy recalls. “Bigla na lang ako tumakbo. Siyempre mahirap na baka mabaril po ako. ‘Yun, bumaba na ‘ko [sa bundok]. Alas onse na po nung bumaba ako.”
He identified the young girl as Adeng and the man as Gerry Azarcon, the victim’s mother’s ex-boyfriend.
Because of Randy’s statement, Gerry Azarcon became the primary suspect. The authorities wasted no time tracking him down. Upon his arrest, the authorities noticed suspicious scratches on his body.
“Bukod pa dun, ‘yung brief nung suspek may dugo-dugo pa,” SPO1 Albis said. “Lalong lumakas ‘yung ebidensya laban sa kanya na paniniwala naming na siya na talaga ‘yung suspek.”
Initially, Gerry denied killing Adeng. But eventually, he confessed to the murder. At first he claimed that it was his friends who took Adeng and he had no idea until he saw her. But further into the questioning, Gerry eventually spilled his motives.
“Galit ako sa nanay niya,” he said. “Atsaka lasing din ako noon, ayun nagamit ko siya.”
Adeng’s aunt, meanwhile, believed that Gerry had long been harboring lust for her niece.
“Kasi matangkad na bata ‘yung pamangkin ko,” Marry Rose said. “Maganda. Maputi.”
Due to the evidence and statements gathered, Gerry Azarcon was charged with rape with homicide. He is currently detained at the Caloocan City Jail while his case is being tried.