US Marine detained in transgender murder; used condoms found near body

By ABS-CBNnews.com

Oct. 13, 2014

MANILA – A US Marine is suspected of killing a Filipino transgender in Olongapo City.

The body of victim Jennifer Laude was found naked and lifeless inside a motel bathroom, with only a blanket covering her.

Based on the initial investigation of the Olongapo police, Laude’s neck was pressed down on the toilet seat, while her head was being shoved into the toilet bowl.

Two used condoms were also found in the garbage can inside the hotel room.

CCTV footage taken at a bar in Olongapo City shows four male foreigners with Laude.

Laude’s friend said the foreigners approached them inside the bar on the evening of October 11.

A few minutes later, Laude and one of the foreigners checked in at Celzone Lodge.

The foreigner was spotted leaving the room at 11:45 p.m.

Motel staff who entered the room to clean it found the victim’s body.

There were no signs of a struggle in the bedroom and Laude’s belongings were complete.

Police are now looking at two motives behind the killing.

One — The foreigner could have found out that Laude was a transgender. However, authorities doubt this theory because of the used condoms discovered in the room.

Another theory of investigators is Laude could have tried to steal from the foreigner.

The US embassy in Manila has said that a US Marine is the possible suspect.

BREADWINNER

For Laude’s family, the brutal killing of their breadwinner is unbearable.

Laude was paying for the education of youngest sibling Rex, and also provided for their family’s other needs.

Laude’s sister Michelle last saw her alive at the bar that fateful Saturday night.

Michelle said Laude had a German fiance and she only dreamed of giving her family a better life.

The Laude family hopes they will not have to wait long for justice to be served.

JUSTICE

In a statement issued to Balitang America, Filipina transgender rights advocate Geena Rocero said the Philippine trans community is awaiting a detailed report from police and a statement from the US marine base in Subic regarding the case.

“The handling of Jennifer Laude’s murder will represent how justice is served for our community,” Rocero wrote in her statement.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario vows justice for Laude.

Del Rosario said he has met with US embassy officials and they will coordinate closely regarding the case.

In a statement, the US embassy expressed its deepest condolences to Laude’s family and vowed to cooperate in the investigation.

American troops are currently in the country as part of a joint training exercise.

The drills are over, but no American ship will leave the Philippines, just yet.

Admiral Samuel Locklear ordered the USS Peleliu and another warship to stay in the former U.S. base of Subic Bay until after the murder investigation is over, executive director of the Visiting Forces Agreement Commission, Eduardo Oban, said.

So far, there are few details about the case. But according to the Marine Corps Times and Navy Times, a US Marine and three others are already detained at the USS Peleliu.

Some Filipino lawmakers said the US Marine should be immediately placed under Philippine custody.

Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Philippines will have jurisdiction on criminal cases involving American servicemen, but the suspects will remain under US custody.

Women’s group Gabriela now fears a repeat of the Subic rape case involving Lance Corporal Daniel Smith.

Smith was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2006. But three years later, the alleged victim Suzette Nicolas recanted and Smith was released.

– with reports from Zen Hernandez, Maan Macapagal, Chiara Zambrano, and Jenny Reyes; ABS-CBN News; ANC; Reuters; and Balitang America.

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