Emmanuel Desalisa and his wife, Norma, reportedly had a deteriorating relationship due to constant, and often physical fights about infidelity. Emmanuel had long accused Norma of being with another man and that the child she was carrying was not his.
On the night before her death, the couple had yet another fight, and the following morning, Norma's lifeless body would be found hanging at the tree near their house. This would become a complex crime of parricide with unintentional abortion.
Life Before The Crime
In October 1983, Emmanuel Desalisa was a twenty-four-year-old farmer who lived with his eighteen-year-old wife, Norma, and their two-year-old daughter in their home in Sorsogon. In their neighborhood, there were two other houses that were 150 meters away. Their in-laws and their neighbor, Carlito Dichoso, were the other residents. An abundance of trees and shrubs were scattered around the Desalisa home, giving them privacy.
On October 9, 1983, Paulina Dioneda, the mother of Norma, was informed by the mother of Emmanuel about the couple’s altercation which involved Emmanuel slapping and hitting Norma. In the afternoon, Norma told Paulina about what Emmanuel did to her and how he ordered her to not go out of their home to drink because their daughter was sick. Unfortunately, even before this particular incident, Norma has always been physically abused by her own husband.
Emmanuel and Norma would quarrel often because Norman was apparently jealous of another man as he thought the child that Norma was carrying was not his.
The following day, October 10, 1983, Norma’s father, Vicente, went to her home to discover broken plates scattered all over the floor and the rope used to tie the other end of their hammock was missing. He went outside to look for more clues when he saw the couple’s pig. He wanted to feed the pig with some coconut meat, and in order to do so, he went to a nearby coconut tree. What he saw would traumatize him.
Discovery of Norma's Body
Vicente initially saw the back of his daughter’s body. He called for her, but she did not answer him. He approached her and touched her back to get her attention. However, instead of his daughter turning her back to face him, her body swayed. Vicente now realized that his daughter was hanging from the tree, inches from the ground.
The rope missing from the hammock was now wrapped around Norma’s neck, her dress was wet, and her feet bloodied. He immediately went to his home to inform his wife about what had happened. They sought the help of their neighbor, Carlito Dichoso, to inform the authorities; which the latter did.
Carlito would testify that during a rainy evening of October 9, 1983, Emmanuel went to his house to borrow a flashlight as he was looking for his wife. More than two hours had passed, Emmanuel returned to Carlito’s house, and sat down on the bench. Carlito asked if Emmanuel was able to find Norma, but Emmanuel did not answer. Carlito suggested that Norma might be at her parents’ house, and if not, to look in other nearby huts. Emmanuel still did not answer. The only words Emmanuel uttered, later on, was “My wife is continuously possessed by devils.” Carlito’s wife told Emmanuel to be patient with Norma because she was pregnant.
It was past three in the morning when Emmanuel ended up falling asleep on the bench, and he was awoken when he fell from it. He sat back up on the bench and would not sleep anymore. According to Carlito, at five in the morning, Emmanuel went inside the former’s home and asked, “Manoy Carlito, if there is something that happened, what would I do?” Before Carlito could answer, Emmanuel had already left.
Two hours later, at around 7:30 in the morning, Carlito would be informed by Norma’s parents that she had died.
The chief investigator at the time, Corporal Crisonogo Gillego, was accompanied by two others as they were ordered to investigate the woman who was hanged from a tree branch. They found Norma with a rope tied around her neck and was around 12 inches above the ground. Her dress had blood stains as well as on her underwear. Gillego did not suspect it to be a suicide because Norma’s hair was entangled with the knot of the rope. If a person were to commit suicide, they had to prepare the knot first before putting it around their neck and jumping.
Gillego found out that the rope used around Norma’s neck was the one used for the hammock at the couple’s home. Upon investigating their home, it was a mess with their belongings scattered all over the place.
Emmanuel was at the house of the barangay captain when Gillego asked about how Norma suffered such a tragic death, but Emmanuel did not answer. Gillego also asked if Emmanuel suspected Norma of having another man. Emmanuel said that someone whose last name was “Ariate” was courting his wife. When asked if he and Norma would often fight, Emmanuel said that they do fight sometimes. Finally, when asked as to why Emmanuel was not at home, he answered that he was afraid that Norma’s parents may retaliate. It was Emmanuel’s mother who informed him about the death of his wife.
"It Wasn't Me"
Emmanuel would claim to be innocent amid his in-laws expressing their disdain over the death of their daughter. According to them, the couple’s relationship had already been deteriorating even months before the incident, and since then, they would often fight.
"He did not consider her anymore as his wife."
Emmanuel believed that Norma committed suicide as he did not suspect anyone who could have killed her. According to him, Norma had attempted to commit suicide before, but was stopped by her uncle.
According to Emmanuel, on the afternoon of October 9, 1983, he and his wife were just at home. In the evening, they had a fight over a supposed affair that he accused Norma of having. Norma told him to leave, and so, he left. When he returned at around 6 in the evening, his daughter was all alone, crying. He brought his daughter with him as he made his way to the house of his in-laws to ask about Norma’s whereabouts. They did not know, so Emmanuel went back home to soothe his daughter, then went to Carlito’s house. Norma was not there either, so Emmanuel asked Carlito to care for his daughter while he looked for Norma—hence, the flashlight he wanted to borrow.
Thinking that because of the heavy downpour, Norma returned home, Emmanuel went back to Carlito’s, but unfortunately, she still has not arrived. As Emmanuel searched around the area, he discovered his wife hanging from a tree. He was shocked by what he saw as he could not believe that Norma would do such a thing. He immediately went to his parents’ house to inform them of what happened instead of putting down Norma’s body from the tree. Emmanuel’s mother went to the police while he went to Dominador Baluyot, one of the peace and order officers to report what happened to his wife.
Trial of Emmanuel
Emmanuel did not accept how the court found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt of killing his wife out of jealousy. He contested that it was Norma who was the jealous one. He also claimed that she was suicidal as she had attempted to end her life before but was stopped by her uncle.
He also emphasized how he spent the night at Carlito’s house after desperately searching for her, and that he would not have been able to do what he was supposedly guilty of. In fact, if he did indeed kill her, his first instinct would have been to go into hiding in order to avoid arrest. Emmanuel was backed up by the office of the solicitor general as the injuries that Norma sustained were from hanging herself, not by Emmanuel.
However, the court found Emmanuel’s defense to be weak as due to the presence of motive and the circumstances around the incident, they were led to believe that Emmanuel did kill Norma.
The circumstantial evidence was enough to prove that Emmanuel was guilty. There was no question that Emmanuel and Norma fought before her death—which Emmanuel admitted. When asked about “Ariate” and his courting Norma, Emmanuel grew pale and started trembling. Paulina also testified that Norma went to her to tell her about how Emmanuel hurt her during their fight—which Emmanuel did not deny.
Their fight before and immediately prior to Norma’s death were due to Emmanuel’s suspicions of Norma being another man, and that the child she was carrying was not his. This culminated in assigning jealousy as the motive behind the crime.
The evidence definitely points to Norma dying at the hands of Emmanuel, not to her being suicidal. Aside from their home being a mess due to their fight, Norma had blood stains on her dress, underwear, and feet. It was also discovered that Norma may have been stabbed by a bolo or something sharp in her genitalia. During the cross-examination, Emmanuel admitted to being armed with something sharp during his search for Norma. Aside from the wound, it was also found that Norma may have also been punched on her genitalia. These wounds were definitely not self-inflicted, further implicating Emmanuel to the crime.
The court was confused by Emmanuel’s actions upon discovering the body of his wife. Instead of bringing her down and rushing her to the doctor, he went to his parents’ home instead. His in-laws’ house was just near theirs so why was it that he did not inform them first; especially since it was their daughter?
Norma was hanged where the trees and shrubs surrounding the area would obstruct the view of neighbors and passersby; therefore, she would not have been able to receive any help.
Emmanuel murdered not just his wife, but also their five-month-old unborn child. Norma suffered a brutal death by being beaten up then hanged because Emmanuel suspected her of having an affair with another man—and that the child she was carrying was not his. Both Norma and their unborn child died under the tree that they were hanged from.
Emmanuel was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the complex crime of parricide with unintentional abortion, and sentenced to life imprisonment.
READ: What is the Opposite of Being Nice? The Story Behind the Startling Murder of Michelle Rivera Nyce (2004) article of PH Murder Stories.
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