By Roy Mabasa
The death of 24-year-old Filipina student Jastine Valdez in Ireland last Saturday grabbed the headlines in Dublin and sent shock waves to the entire Irish community.
Reports attributed to Gardaí, the Republic of Ireland police, said Valdez was murdered, probably by strangulation shortly after being abducted while walking by the roadside in Wicklow county, some 60 kilometers south of the capital Dublin.
Irish police said witnesses have reported seeing a black compact SUV Nissan Qashqai she was bundled into being driven “like a rally car” around the area where her remains were found on late Monday morning in RathmichaelCounty, also south of Dublin.
A note was reportedly found in the car but the contents were not readily disclosed.
Police sketches showed that on Saturday at around 5 p.m., Valdez left her workplace at a café in Bray and took a bus on her way home to Enniskerry.
An hour after, while walking along Kilcroney Road toward her home, Valdez was abducted by the suspect who was later identified as 40-year-old local Mark Hennessy.
It was not until Valdez’s parents reported her missing at about 11:30 p.m. on Saturday that Gardaí knew the identity of the woman at the center of the eyewitness reports.
Witnesses who later came forward told investigators of seeing a woman being herded into a black SUV car actually matched the identity of Valdez.
At about 8 p.m. on Sunday, the police found the vehicle. But when they approached the car, a confrontation with the suspect ensued and an armed police shot him dead.
In the course of the ongoing investigation, reports said the suspect’s DNA samples will now be crosschecked with the DNA database for any links to unsolved recent sex crimes that happened in the last 20 years.
Jastine joined her parents, Danilo and Teresita Valdez, in Ireland three years ago after completing a degree in accountancy in her native municipality of Aritao in Nueva Vizcaya.
Both her parents moved to Ireland in 1985 and had since then became naturalized Irish citizens.
Those who remember her described Jastine as a “quiet, unassuming temperament.”
Meanwhile, the Philippine government conveyed its condolences to the family of Valdez.
It said the Philippine Embassy in London and the Honorary Consulate in Dublin have been monitoring the case and have been in touch with authorities since Valdez’s family reported her missing on Saturday evening.
Philippine Ambassador to London Antonio Lagdameo said Honorary Consul Mark Congdon will be discussing with the family possible assistance the Department may be able to extend.