Prominent Murder Story

() - March 22, 2007 - 12:00am
The death of Rico Delgado, son of prominent businessman Francisco "Don Paco" Delgado, looks like a story straight out of the pages of a John Grisham or a David Baldacci mystery novel. It has all the elements of a mystery thriller — blood, gore, intrigues, inheritance disputes, high society. Two weeks ago according to police records, Rico was stabbed to death at his apartment in Malate by two masked men, forced the safety vault open and took away an undetermined amount of valuables and documents including land titles.

This high-profile murder has everyone in high society and business circles speculating about the motives, especially so because it has all the twists and turns found in the plot of a telenovela-cum-mystery TV series. Rico’s 20-year-old girlfriend, who claims she had a good look at one of the killers, is allegedly five months pregnant — but people close to the victim say they have only been going out for two months.

Police found the name "Franco" — the nickname of Rico’s older brother — written with the victim’s blood on the wall of the apartment, but police dismissed this as an obvious effort to mislead investigators. According to the police, the killers seemed familiar with the building layout, and knew where the safety vault was located. The police are pointing to Louie Gonzalez, the ex-husband of singer Kuh Ledesma, as a prime suspect. Louie is one of the children of the late Vicky Quirino, who is the second wife of Don Paco.

While the couple had no children of their own, Vicky had four children by her first husband, Luis "Chito" Gonzalez, while Don Paco had six with his first wife. It was said that while she was alive, Don Paco gave half a million pesos to the Gonzalez children as support. When Vicky died of pneumonia in Amsterdam last year, Louie and sister Ruby had reportedly been so desperate for funds. Police are looking at the motive, which seems to point to a dispute over inheritance, one of them a Rockwell condominium owned by Don Paco but which the Gonzalez siblings claim is a conjugal property.

Louie Gonzalez, known to be a drug user, reportedly left the Makati Medical Center basement and is nowhere to be found. And now, another curious twist is the implication of Vicky’s wheelchair bound daughter Ruby as the brains behind the murder. She has been the subject of past rumors alleging that she was using her influence over the 91-year-old Don Paco to keep the key to the old man’s vault in her possession. Ruby became a paraplegic after being involved in a major car accident with former boyfriend Mandy Eduque on the wheels. Mandy is the son of the late Elvira Manahan, host of the then popular high society show "Two for the Road."

If one could recall, Elvira was herself killed in a gruesome fashion in 1986 – bashed on the head with a heavy object – allegedly by her lover. She was killed in her house in North Forbes, which is now the residence of the French Ambassador. Tagged as the murderer was Jaime Balatbat, a real estate broker, and the official motive was reportedly a real estate deal gone sour. In another turn of events – Balatbat was killed while in police custody as he was supposedly "trying to escape."

People close to the Delgado family naturally want the mastermind caught, with some even suggesting to have the murderer confined to jail then allowed to "try and escape." The real cause of Rico’s death has been kept from the Delgado patriarch. The old man is said to be having memory lapses and is suffering from symptoms indicative of Alzheimer’s, sometimes even talking about his deceased wife as if she were still abroad, on vacation.

The brutal slaying of Rico is proof that life in this country has become so cheap, with hired killers easily available. But at the end of the day, the Manila police, the National Bureau of Investigation and even the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group must solve this high profile murder mystery – which has been keeping business and high society riveted to its twists and turns – in a high profile manner to show that no one can get away with murder – whether rich or poor.
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Email: babe_tcb@yahoo.com

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