On the early morning of September 7, 2013, Kae was just a few steps away from her house when she was held at gunpoint by unknown men. She was taken to her car where the men drove her to Silang, Cavite. Kae died after being strangled using her laptop’s cable charger and sustained multiple stab wounds. Her body was discovered five hours later under a bridge.
The murder of Kae Davantes was a high-profile case that it even reached former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III. He called for a prompt investigation for the case, but there wouldn’t be any leads or strong evidence until 6 years later. Four men were convicted for the murder of Kae after one of the men, the neophyte of the group, casually told the story about how they killed Kae. Despite the slow progress in attaining justice for her death, her family remained hopeful during the investigations.
Stroke of Luck
In 2013, Kristelle “Kae” Davantes was a 25-year-old advertising manager when she was taken away from her home, brutally killed, then thrown off a bridge. At the time, she was taking up her master’s degree wherein she had just one thesis defense away from its completion. She was also engaged to be married the following year.
Kae was at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig with her friends the night before her death. The last time she was heard of was around 1 in the morning on September 7, 2013 as she drove back to her home in Las Pinas.
“Na-tsamba lang” or “it was just a stroke of luck” that Kae ended up being the victim of such a crime. She was gagged and stabbed with a P20 knife because she saw the face of one of the perpetrators.
So far, the authorities had no leads as to who the perpetrators were nor did they have an idea of what the motive was behind Kae’s death. Her car, a Toyota Altis, remained missing for a while until it was found in Las Pinas. Her death made headlines throughout the country, and even the president himself at the time had offered a P2-million reward for any information that will lead to Kae’s killers.
Identifying the Suspects
A man named Rex played a significant role in bringing answers and justice to Kae’s murder. Elena, Rex’s girlfriend, was at the house of 19-year-old Samuel Decimo on September 8, 2013—the day after Kae’s death. Present in the house was Anita, the mother of Annie, Samuel’s live-in partner.
It was Anita who casually told Elena about how Samuel held up a girl and killed her the night before. During dinner, Samuel would also casually bring up the same story. Elena shared with Rex and her mother what she just heard. This prompted Rex to go to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to report Samuel’s crime.
Reenactment of the Crime
Samuel was cooperative throughout the investigation and even promised that he would help the NBI. On September 25, along with the NBI, Samuel was brought to the crime scenes where he reenacted the abduction and killing of Kae as a way to verify his statements.
According to Samuel, he was unsure as to whether or not Kae was still alive when they threw her off the bridge. The said bridge was an hour away from Las Pinas. The residents of Moonwalk Village, where Kae lived, said that they heard dogs barking outside at past 2 in the morning.
According to Reggie Diel, one of the men accused of killing Kae, on September 7, 2013, he and the other perpetrators were looking for a jeepney to rob when they chanced upon Kae who was about to enter her home. She was dragged inside her car as one of the men drove it to Tagaytay. While inside the car, Kae was stabbed in the neck. Reggie, who was in another car and had been following Kae’s, said that her body was thrown off a bridge in Silang, Cavite.
"Just a Holdup"
Samuel claimed he and his cohorts were just supposed to rob someone that particular night and had no intention to kill.
"Just a holdup, that’s all. We were really broke," he said. "We were merely going around looking for a target that night. And then, we just saw her alone getting out of her car to open the gate. We quickly gagged her mouth, that's why she wasn’t able to scream."
They were able to cruise around Moonwalk Village as their car had a sticker to enter the village. The car, suspected to be a stolen vehicle, was driven by Jomar Pepito whose girlfriend lived in another village in Las Pinas where Kae’s car would eventually be found. The men confessed that they tried to burn the car in order to cover their tracks, but failed to do so successfully.
According to Reggie, it was Jomar who spotted Kae after failing to find a jeepney to rob. Jorek Evangelista and another suspect, Baser Manalang, held Kae at gunpoint then dragged her to her car. It was also Jomar who suggested that they kill Kae as she had already seen his face; however, Reggie objected to the idea.
Samuel and Jomar were in Kae’s car as they drove to Silang, Cavite. While inside the car that followed Kae’s, Reggie heard a loud noise when Kae was thrown off the bridge. They left with her laptop and cell phones to be sold in Alabang as well as cash.
According to the authorities, based on the evidence, the intent of the group was to rob Kae, and the taking of her car and killing her was due to being identified.
Trial and Verdict
According to Samuel’s lawyer, Marc Anthony Patriarca, he hoped that Samuel’s cooperation to reenact the crimes would downgrade his charges. Samuel and five others were facing carnapping and robbery with homicide charges.
According to the law, whenever homicide has been committed by reason of or on the occasion of robbery, all those who took part as principals in the robbery will also be held guilty as principals of robbery with homicide although they did not take part in the homicide, unless it appears that they sought to prevent the killing.
Reggie was unable to pinpoint the real killer of Kae, but based on the law, the four men’s participation in the robbery, which led to homicide, have made them guilty of robbery with homicide.
“The act of one was the act of all.” Another suspect claimed that Samuel was the mastermind of Kae’s murder; which the latter denied. Samuel denied that he suggested killing Kae as well.
Samuel initially made a not guilty plea, but later changed it after admitting his guilt. Reggie, who has become a state witness, claimed that he disagreed with the plan to kill Kae.
The other men involved, Jomar Pepito, Lloyd Benedict Enriquez, and Jorek Evangelista, denied killing Kae. However, they admitted that they were present when Kae was taken to her car to be driven away from her home, but they emphasized that they were not active participants.
A Las Pinas court was finally able to convict four men for the murder of Kae—6 years after her death. The Las Pinas Regional Trial Court Branch 253 found the men guilty of robbery with homicide. They were sentenced to reclusion perpetua and had to pay Kae’s family P125,000 in indemnity and damages.
Incomplete Family Reunion
Kae’s parents, Peddy and Beth Davantes, were overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) whose supposed happy reunion with the rest of their family turned out to be a grim one as they laid their daughter to rest.
Samuel has since asked forgiveness from Kae’s family, hoping that they would understand his situation. However, that would be a difficult feat for the family. The family has accepted the death of Kae, but their anger remains because of her gruesome death.
"I’m crying because we’re incomplete now. It’s not the same as before," Peddy said. "Punish who deserves to be punished. I just tell the Lord, give me a clear heart. Take the anger away. I’m angry because of what they did to her."
When further information regarding their daughter’s case became known, the family was in a state of mixed emotions as they were unsure whether or not the case would finally progress. They remained hopeful in the investigations as the discoveries, especially regarding Samuel, would bring them closer to justice.
READ: The Notorious Assailants versus The Resolute Victim: Maggie Dela Riva’s Fight for Justice article on PH Murder Stories.
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