Parents of Filipino found dead in Mississippi River want answers

MEMPHIS, TN — More than two weeks have passed since 28-year old Ronald Ponce’s remains were pulled from the Mississippi River near Tom Lee Park, but his San Francisco Bay Area-based parents, Rose and Randy, said they still have no idea what happened to their son.

Rose, who spoke exclusively to ABS-CBN News, said they’ve gone back and forth to Memphis — trying to get answers from the police. But no one’s giving them definite answers.

What they got from authorities, according to Rose, was a preview of the surveillance camera footage, showing Ronald walking along the Mississippi River past 5 am on July 31st.  She said the footage never showed Ronald jumping into the Mississippi River.

However, around 3 am, before Ronald was last seen, Rose said she and her husband got a text message from their son who asked for forgiveness for what he was about to do: commit suicide by jumping into the water.

Rose said they were not able to read the text message until later that morning and immediately reached out to Ronald’s ex-girlfriend, Rachel Daniel, who reportedly got a farewell note from Ronald as well.

According to Rose, Ronald and Rachel had recently broken up and Ronald suspected that she was cheating on him.

Despite the suicide note, Ronald’s family and friends do not believe he’d actually end his own life — especially over a girl.

“Hindi eh, dahil marami na rin syang naging girlfriend eh. Sya nga po nagbebreak. Kaya, ewan ko po, di ko alam,” said his mother Rose. (“I don’t think so because he’s had girlfriends in the past and he would even break up with them. So I don’t know.”)

“He didn’t seem to have any sign of depression. Kung nagbreak man sila, di sana nadepress – but no. There’s no sign of him being depressed,” said his former employer. (“He didn’t seem to have any sign of depression. If they broke up, he could have been depressed. But no, there was no sign of him being depressed.”)

It was not until August 12th when Ronald’s remains were found floating on the river and it would take another week until he was identified by authorities, who also found his car parked nearby.

According to Ronald’s family, they have been left in the dark by authorities. They said they were neither given a copy of the police report nor were they shown preliminary autopsy findings. They said they were also not allowed to see Ronald’s body.

Instead, Rose said they were advised to have Ronald’s body cremated, which is scheduled anytime now. They fear that once Ronald’s body is cremated, any evidence that would prove he didn’t commit suicide, would be destroyed.

ABS-CBN News is still trying to reach out to Daniel for comment, as well detectives from the Memphis Police Department on the progress of their investigation.

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