Jobless man arrested for murder of 7-year-old girl

MANILA, Philippines - A jobless man faces charges of rape and homicide after admitting to sexually abusing and then killing a seven-year-old girl on Saturday night.

The Manila Police District is set to file charges against Norman de Leon, 25, of Pandacan, Manila, for the alleged rape and killing of seven-year-old Myla Rosales, his neighbour. Meanwhile, two men, earlier tagged as suspects and named as Joshua de Leon and Romulo Marquez, are expected to be set free because of lack of evidence against them.

The De Leon siblings and Marquez were invited for questioning after Rosales' heavily stabbed body was found at a public toilet in the area Sunday morning.

Parents of the victim were distraught upon hearing that only Norman de Leon would be charged, and urged the police to file the same charges against the other two suspects who, they firmly believed, were also part of the crime even if they did not have evidence and witnesses to prove it.

SPO3 Glenzor Vallejo, one of the investigators in the case, said that the rape and murder happened around 11 p.m. on Saturday evening. Marquez and the De Leon brothers were drinking together in Norman's room and were asking the victim to buy them cigarettes and liquor.

After a while, Norman was left alone in the house with the girl. He then allegedly lured Rosales before stabbing her multiple times with a kitchen knife. However, he could not remember sexually assaulting the girl.

Vallejo said that Norman, who admitted this to investigators, also confessed to being drunk and high on drugs at the same time. While he could not remember having raped the girl, initial examination of Rosales' genitals showed bruises on it, which Vallejo said could be an indication of sexual abuse. As of Monday, police were still waiting for the autopsy report that could confirm if the victim was raped.

Romeo Rosales, the victim's father, said that he started to worry about Myla's whereabouts at about 9 p.m., as she failed to return home early from playing.

"Earlier that night, we were not yet worried because our daughter knows our community very well," he said. After 9 p.m., the couple searched all night for their daughter.

It was not until early the next day when their daughter's body was found in a public toilet, with what looked like burns and a total of 20 stab wounds in her body.-With a report from Djan Arell G. Magbanua, Inquirer trainee