DINALUPIHAN, Bataan: Police on Tuesday arrested a 56-year-old carpenter suspected in the rape-slay of his own nine-year-old niece, who had been found dead some meters away from their family compound in Barangay Santo Niño here.
Chief Inspector Eduardo Guevara Jr., Dinalupihan police chief, said Leonardo Aquino, a widower, was no longer a person of interest but a suspect in the death of Danica Santos, a Grade 4 pupil.
Guevarra said they are waiting for the medical examination report from investigators that would enable them to determine what charges to file against the suspect.
Witnesses pointed to Aquino as the last person seen with the victim, according to him.
They said the girl who was watching television in his uncle’s house was told by her uncle to buy him chewing gum.
“Maaaring sinundan ng suspect ang bata at hindi na ito nakabalik [He could have followed the girl and the girl failed to return to the house],” the chief of police said.
Guevara said the suspect was convicted and sentenced on December 1, 1995 for two counts of rape with homicide and imprisoned from 1995 to 1999.
Aquino, however, was acquitted, when the witness died, he added.
He admitted that he was imprisoned but acquitted of the charge.
The suspect said he knew “nothing” about the latest allegation against him.
He added that he told his niece to buy chewing gum but that the girl returned and went home to her parents’ house, which is in the same compound where his house is.
Danica was second to the youngest of six children of Divino and Cristina Santos.
Cristina is a sister of the suspect’s wife who had died.
The mother said her daughter was last seen in their house alive on the night of October 1.
The body of the victim was discovered inside a vacant lot in Barangay Santo Niño on Tuesday morning.