The mother of a flight attendant who died at a New Year’s Eve party in a luxury Philippines hotel has blasted the official autopsy that found her daughter died from a ‘ruptured aortic aneurysm’.
Sharon Dacera said she ‘will not accept’ the results of the autopsy, telling a news programme: ‘For me, my daughter was raped’.
Christine Dacera was found dead in a bathtub at the Garden City Grand Hotel in Makati, Philippines on New Year’s Day.
Eleven men were provisionally charged with rape and murder of the 23-year-old PAL Express crew member after police investigations found injuries to her arms and legs and traces of sperm on her body.
But the charges were slapped down by prosecutors who said further investigations including a post-mortem revealed Dacera died from a brain aneurysm.
However, Christine’s mother says she will not accept those findings – insisting that her daughter was raped and murdered, and that her killers must be held to account.
The mother of a flight attendant who died at a New Year’s Eve party in a luxury Philippines hotel has blasted the official autopsy that found her daughter died from a ‘ruptured aortic aneurysm’
Christine Dacera was found dead in a bathtub at the Garden City Grand Hotel in Makati, Philippines on New Year’s Day
‘If you see the body of Christine, if you are the mother, you will surely feel the pain suffered by Christine from them but my daughter cannot speak anymore because she died,’ Mrs Dacera told the Headstart programme.
‘There were lacerations on my daughter, bruises, how come it wasn’t written [in the autopsy]? I cannot accept the autopsy that they had done.’
‘There was a crime, my daughter is dead. There was a crime,’ she said.
‘The ones responsible should be made to pay in the death of my daughter. That is justice for me.’
The Makati City Prosecutor’s Office said the ‘pieces of evidence so far submitted are insufficient to establish that [Ms Dacera] was sexually assaulted or raped,’ the New Zealand Herald reported.
The Dacera family is now calling for the Philippine National Police’s medico-legal officer to be fired, alleging that they bungled the autopsy.
The family believe that Christine Dacera was drugged and abused before her death.
The New Zealand Herald reported that the family claimed the young woman had ‘already experienced intoxication and complained that her drinks appeared to have been spiked’ during the New Year’s party.
‘We also believe that maybe the aneurysm was a proximate cause but it is also very possible it was triggered by the assault prior to her death,’ The Inquirer quoted the family’s lawyer, Brick Reyes, as saying.
A second autopsy is due to be conducted on Dacera’s body, this time by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). The results are expected to be released sometime this week.
The NBI is hopeful the second autopsy will confirm how Dacera died but said that her remains were ‘already contaminated,’ according to the New Zealand Herald.
Dacera’s body was embalmed prior to the second autopsy and some of the evidence previously collected appeared to have deteriorated, according to Ferdinand Lavin, the deputy director of the NBI.
‘We know that it was quite impossible [to get proper evidence] considering that there have already been some compromises and the body has shown signs of deterioration but we were not discouraged by that,’ he told reporters on Saturday.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Tuesday that the NBI had successfully extracted urine samples from Dacera’s body which can ‘provide a lot of information to the forensic team’.
Prior to her death, Dacera had checked into the hotel with three male friends and another man. More men joined them later on for a New Year’s Eve party.
CCTV images show a barefoot Dacera in the hotel corridor. In one image she is holding a glass of wine as several men follow her to the room.
Makati police chief Colonel Harold Depositar said the 23-year-old had injuries on her arms and legs and traces of sperm on her genitals. He said her death was the result of rape and homicide.
He said: ‘Only three of them were Dacera’s friends.
‘The others were practically strangers to her, as they were only known to her three friends.’
Depositar went on to say: ‘For sure, there was force inflicted on her body because we found contusions in her leg and knees, and there’s an abrasion in her thigh,’
He added that semen had been found ‘in multiple places in the hotel rooms’.
Eleven men were provisionally charged in relation to the rape and murder of the 23-year-old PAL Express crew member. Three of these men were arrested and released from police custody. Pictured: CCTV footage shows Dacera at the hotel
CCTV stills purportedly show Dacera’s final moments before she was allegedly gang-raped and killed in a hotel room in the Philippines
Investigators have said that only three of the men present were Dacera’s friends, describing the others as ‘practically strangers to her’
Police have provisionally charged 11 men with rape and homicide who were with Dacera in the adjacent hotel rooms, local reports said.
On January 5, three of the men – John Pascual Dela Serna III, Rommel Galido and John Paul Halili – were released pending further investigation.
Prosecutors say they want more evidence about what happened and if it was a rape and murder.
Speaking to reporters upon release from prison, Halili said: ‘We did nothing wrong.’
One of the eight men still in custody, Gregorio de Guzman, has insisted that he is innocent, claiming that he and the other men charged are homosexual, according to a report in news.com.au.
‘Every one of them was gay,’ De Guzman told local media, according an English translation by ABS-CBN News.
‘My impression of her is she likes to hang out with us LGBT members. She’s comfortable with us. The entire time she was really comfortable with every one of us.
‘For me, I’ve never had sexual relations with a woman. I’ve never been aroused by a woman. Always a man. Many can testify to that.’
Galido said that Dacera had been ‘like a sibling’ to him, adding ‘I love her very much. I hope her family will see things clearly.’
According to the news outlet, an initial report found that Dacera checked into the City Garden Hotel at 11 am on December 31 with Galido, Dela Serna and two others, Louie De Lima and a Clark Rapinan.
The group began eating and drinking from 10pm and, according to Galido, Dacera drank strong alcoholic drinks including tequila and rum and coke.
According to the report, Dacera was last seen alive at 6.23am on January 1. At 12:25 pm, the hotel front desk received a call from a male person asking for help as Dacera was unconscious in the bathtub.
Suspect Gregorio de Guzman, pictured above, has insisted he is innocent, claiming that he and the other men charged are all gay
Dacera, 23, was celebrating New Year’s Eve in the lavish City Garden Hotel in Makati
The flight attendant from General Santos City was found dead in a bathtub at the hotel
The initial autopsy report gave the cause of death as a ruptured aortic aneurysm, which could have been caused by very strenuous activity and a high level of alcohol toxicity.
Police said that one of the men with Dacera on New Year’s Eve, Rommel Daluro Galido, gave a statement claiming that he woke up at around 10am and noticed she was asleep in the bathtub. Galido covered her with a blanket before going back to sleep.
When Galido woke up several hours later, he found her still unconscious and saw that she had started to turn blue.
He raised the alarm and Dacera was given CPR, but failed to respond and was rushed to the Makati Medical Clinic where doctors confirmed her death.
Police were suspicious because the young woman had cuts and bruises on her body in particular around her thighs and knees and a more detailed examination found sperm in her body justifying a provisional rape charge against all 11 men who had been in the room with her.
They added that the provisional rape charge would only be filed against all 11 men once they have the autopsy results.
The victim’s mother said that she knew her daughter was going to the party with work colleagues and had allowed it because she trusted them.
She said: ‘I had no idea that she would be in any danger because she was only with other flight attendants. I don’t know why they had to do this to my child. Now all I have left is the fight for justice. They raped my child.’
The investigation continues.
One of her colleagues, Rommel Galida, woke up at around 10am and noticed Dacera in the bathtub
Police have provisionally charged 11 men with rape and homicide who were with Dacera and were in the adjacent hotel rooms
Dacera was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead after a friend thought she was asleep in the bathtub but found her in the same position hours later. Pictured: The hotel where Dacera died