Can a family commit murder altogether?

By Alex P. Vidal

“There are four kinds of Homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy.”—Ambrose Bierce

IN a crime of passion where extreme jealousy is involved, is it possible for members of the entire family to plot and murder someone considered to be a threat to break up a family?

It’s hard to say yes, but even Alfred Hitchcock couldn’t produce a film about one family committing the crime of murder with each member having direct knowledge and active participation—unless the victim happened to be an armed burglar who trespassed in a private home in the middle of the night and got lynched by horrified clan members who invoked self-defense.

It’s unthinkable and unrealistic, but if investigators of one sensational murder case in Iloilo City were to be believed, it could be possible.

We can only think that for anybody, a member of the family or not, to become an accessory to the crime, he must be present during the planning stage; he harbored the actual killers; he acted as a lookout during the actual execution of the crime; and he helped finance, arrange or direct the execution of the crime.


In most police crime stories involving extramarital affairs or crimes of passion that ended up in bizarre killings, the wife or husband was always the mastermind.

Dance instructors who take advantage and exploit the weaknesses of the wives of politicians, police and military officials; bar girls and college—or even out-of-school—nymphets who end up as inamoratas of prominent men; playboys and gigolos who cavort with the partners of OFWs and sea fearers; punks who impregnate the rich men’s pretty daughters, former lovers who ditch each other for new partners, to name only a few.

When they were violently waylaid in most cases, no other members of the masterminds’ family, particularly the daughters and sons, were involved; details of the hits were carefully kept under wraps between the hired executioners and the masterminds’ trusted henchmen.

In crime investigations, there’s a principle called “an act of one is an act of all.”

The participation of everyone will have to be proven beyond reasonable doubt during the court trial.

It’s inconceivable, or rather a rare case in the police crime history when members of one biological family altogether acted or plotted the murder of a common enemy, or someone who has enraged the entire clan.

The recent sensational crime story in Iloilo City would be a test case and should be followed from start to finish.


When I was in Los Angeles, CA 12 years ago, I met one of the police officers who investigated the Black Dahlia murder. He was in his 90s.

The reason behind the sensational Black Dahlia murder could be similar to the recent murder case in Iloilo City, except that the Black Dahlia murder was so brutal and gristly.

It began when the sight of a corpse stopped a mother and her child in their tracks. A naked woman lying feet from the sidewalk was sliced cleanly in half at the waist, with not one drop of blood on her.

The now-infamous slaying of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short instantly captured headlines in 1947, with newspapers later dubbing her the “Black Dahlia” in part because she had dark hair and an apparent preference for black clothing.

According to an article in TIME Magazine, Short, a Massachusetts native who had come to California in pursuit of fame, was bled dry before being dumped in an empty lot in a residential area of Los Angeles, authorities said. Her body appeared professionally dissected, and one breast was cut off, according to FBI records.

It’s unclear how the aspiring actor met such a grisly fate. Several dozens of people have claimed credit for the high-profile crime. The FBI, which helped local authorities investigate at the time, said it ran record checks on potential suspects and conducted interviews across the nation. However, none of the confessors appeared to be telling the truth, and the case has gone unsolved.

The murder became the subject of a 1987 novel, followed by a 2006 movie starring Josh Hartnett, Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart and Mia Kirshner.

The Los Angeles Police Department told TIME recently that it is still investigating the cold case, although it did not provide any details. “It’s an unsolved case,” LAPD Officer Norma Eisenman said. “There is no additional information per the detectives.”

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)