No one knew Philippine flight attendant Christine Angelica Dacera until recently when her tragic death on the New Year's eve grabbed headlines and heartfelt messages started pouring in on social media.
But who was she? How did she die? Has anyone been charged in connection with her death? The facts, however, have been hazy so far.
Who was Christine Angelica Dacera and what happened to her?
Dacera, 23, was a flight attendant working with the Philippine Airlines. According to local media reports, she hailed from General Santos City, was the second of four siblings, and had completed a communications degree from the University of the Philippines.
According to the initial report of the police cited by Rappler news agency, Dacera was last seen in public on December 31, checking in at City Garden Hotel in Makati City with her three friends, identified as Rommel Galida, Gregorio Angelo Rafael de Guzman and John dela Serna.
After partying the entire night, wherein more men joined as "friends of friends", Galida said that when he woke up at around 10 a.m. (local time), next morning, he found Dacera asleep in the bathroom itself.
Galida remembered that seeing Dacera asleep, he has covered her with a blanket to keep her warm before going back to sleep once again. When he woke up several hours later, he claimed to have found her unconscious and started to turn blue.
Reports have stated that Dacera even tried to revive to conciousness by a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) but she failed to respond. She was then rushed to Makati hospital by the three friends and the hotel staff but doctors declared her dead on arrival.
The police said they suspected foul play as the victim's body had bruises and cuts especially in the private areas of her body.
Has anyone been charged in the case?
Makati City police chief Colonel Harold Depositar told in an interview to CNN Philippines that the additional men, other than the three friends, were with the victim when the crime took place, and were occupying two adjacent rooms in the same hotel.
"Only three of them (respondents) were Dacera's friends," he said.
"The others were practically strangers to her, as they were only known to her three friends," the police added.
Depositar also said that one of the three friends had escaped without the notice of the investigators. But another man, who was also present in the party, had surrendered later, bringing the total number of men in their custody back to three. As of Tuesday, January 5 – or four days since the crime took place –all of them remained in detention.
Lack of evidence and gaps in narrative
On January 4, the police declared Dacera's death as a case of murder and homicide and filed a rape and homicide complaint against the 11 men identified to have been with Christine on New Year's Day, including her three friends.
When asked by the prosecutor how the police determined the case to be one of rape and homicide, Depositar said it was because of the injuries they had found on the arms and legs and sperm traces in the victims's genitalia. But what the police missed here was to provide a hard copy of the autopsy report. Judgment of such case cannot rely only on stating facts rather than providing any strong and full-proof evidence.
According to media reports, the police had only issued a statement saying there were sperm traces in Dacera's genitalia, but they decided not to disclose autopsy findings to prove the same.
Moreover, a major gap in the narrative of the incident is the failure to explain how Dacera ended up in the bathtub in the first place? Was she either drugged or abused? As a result of such unanswered questions, Makati prosecutor Joan Bolina-Santillan, on Wednesday, had to order an immediate release of the three suspects from police custody and refer the case for further investigation.