Murder raps up vs suspect in motel murder

Rommel John Celestre is tagged in the case of a masseuse who was found dead inside a motel last April 1. (ICPO photo)

By Jennifer P. Rendon

The Iloilo City Police Station 5 in Mandurriao district will file a murder case against the 21-year-old motel murder suspect.

Lieutenant Colonel Albert Sy, ICPS5 chief, said they would file the case against Rommel John Celestre alias Dikit before the Iloilo City Prosecutors Office on Tuesday, April 11.

Celestre, a resident of Barangay Balabago, Jaro, Iloilo City, yielded to authorities on April 5, four days after masseuse Christine Gabayeron was found lifeless inside a motel.

Police probe indicated that at the onset, it appeared that the suspect had no plan of physically harming the victim.

As earlier stated, Celestre went to Gabayeron’s workplace – a spa center located near Queen’s Court Drive-in Hotel in Barangay Bolilao, Mandurriao.

He asked for a massage but later opted for “home service.”

He and Gabayeron checked in at Room 111 of Queen’s Court motel at past 3:00 a.m.

Celestre’s identity was uncovered after a CCTV camera captured him buying beer at a store outside the motel.

Celestre and Gabayeron had finished their transaction when a misunderstanding over payment occurred between them.

“As alleged by the suspect, the victim allegedly asked for additional payment on top of what they had agreed upon,” Sangrines said.

Reports claimed that they initially agreed to P1,500 for the “home service.”

But at that time, Celestre claimed he had some more money, which was intended to buy watermelon for the business of his live-in partner’s father-in-law.

One thing led to another until Celestre got pissed and attacked Gabayeron with a bottle of beer to her head.

Based on the autopsy result, the woman succumbed to head injuries.

Gabayeron was repeatedly struck with a blunt object on her head. The lacerations on her body were caused by broken beer bottles.

Motel room attendants discovered the incident when they spotted Celestre leaving the premises.

The suspect told the employees that his companion was still taking a shower before leaving.

Two attendants went on to check by knocking on the room several times.

When they did not get an answer, they opened the room and discovered Gabayeron’s body sprawled on the floor.

She was on her back with only her shirt on.

Three days after the incident, the Iloilo City Police Office (ICPO) released a screen grab of the CCTV footage of the suspect.

“We received a text message about the complete identity and circumstances of the suspect,” Sangrines said.

The following day, police already named the suspect.

Sangrines said Barangay Captain Edgar Arañador of Balabago, Jaro, Iloilo assisted Celestre’s family, together with lawyer John Ricsan Tormon, to meet with Sy for the surrender of the suspect.

They later fetched the suspect in Bacolod City.

Celestre claimed to have fled to Valladolid, Negros Occidental after the incident.

As this developed, Sy said they are about to give the P10,000 cash reward to a civilian informant.