THE plot thickens in the case of the late 30-year old artist Bree Jonson after she was found to have died of asphyxia while high on cocaine, the Journal Group learned Wednesday.
However, Police Regional Office 1 (PRO1) director, Brigadier General Emmanuel B. Peralta said that although Jonson’s urine sample tested positive for cocaine and that a coroner’s report showed she died of asphyxia, they really can’t say now if ‘she committed suicide or was killed, either deliberately or accidentally.’
Medical experts described asphyxia as a breathing impairment that occurs when there is insufficient oxygen in the body. This results in decreased delivery of oxygen to the brain and can cause a person to become unconscious or die.
“In layman’s term, naubusan siya ng hangin kaya namatay. But we can’t say yet if siya ay nagpakamatay, o pinatay o napatay,” said Peralta.
However, other officials privy to the conduct of the investigation said they are leaning more on the possibility that the victim took her life. “Mataas ang percentage dun sa posibilidad na yun,” one source told the Journal Group.
Brig. Gen. Peralta however said they are still waiting for the official forensic report which will enable them to come up with a conclusion on the case.
ONGPIN STILL A ‘PERSON OF INTEREST’
Peralta said his investigators are still interviewing all people who were with Jonson and 29-year old Julian Ongpin, a son of billionaire Roberto Ongpin, before she was found unconscious on Saturday morning.
According to the official, shortly after Ongpin was ordered released from police custody by a local prosecutor on Monday, he went to their Baguio City residence after promising to fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
On Tuesday, the man who is now considered a ‘person of interest’ and not a suspect anymore in the Jonson case went to the La Union Police Provincial Office to talk with members of the Special Investigation Task Group Jonson. Ongpin arrived on board a helicopter.
Peralta said that Ongpin, accompanied by a legal counsel was physically inspected by police medico-legal officers who later determined that the wound markings on his two forearms and back were caused by a nail and were not fingernail scratches.
Ongpin claimed that he got the wounds after his arms and back while trying to enter the door of the room toilet where Jonson was found.
“Sinabi niya na sumuot siya sa pintuan ng comfort room at sumabit sa pako. Sinukat ng forensic experts yung distance and location ng pako and consistent yun sa forearms and katawan niya,” Brig. Gen. Peralta said.
The official said a review of the hotel CCTV footages showed a frantic Ongpin destroying the glass jalousies of the toilet located outside their room, apparently in an effort to gain entry into the toilet.
“Lahat ng claims niya eh tumatama sa resulta ng review ng CCTV footages and even statements ng mga first-hand witnesses. Nung inimbita siya sa provincial headquarters, he was very cooperative and straightforward ang pagsagot sa mga tanong, indications he may not be lying,” Peralta said.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar said members of the Crime Laboratory autopsied the body of Jonson starting 6:51 a.m. Monday, the process completed at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
He said the PRO1 and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) are jointly investigating the case of Jonson whose body was discovered inside a room at the Floatsam Jetsom Resort in San Juan, La union on Saturday, September 18. The incident was first reported as a suicide incident.
The body was brought to the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center where it stayed while the PNP was coordinating with her parents for the conduct of the autopsy. The parents initially told the police that they would let the NBI handle the case but eventually agreed to have the PNP Crime Laboratory perform it, Gen. Eleazar said.
The cadaver was taken to the Regional Crime Laboratory at the PRO1 headquarters in San Fernando City, La Union where the autopsy was performed, since the ITRMC management would not allow it to be done inside due to COVID-19 protocols.