Digital footprints lead NBI to Silawan’s ‘killer’

THE application of the open source intelligence (OSINT) tool on Christine Lee Silawan’s Facebook account helped the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 agents identify the primary suspect behind

THE application of the open source intelligence (OSINT) tool on Christine Lee Silawan’s Facebook account helped the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 agents identify the primary suspect behind the girl’s gruesome murder.

OSINT is the data collected from publicly available sources to be used in an intelligence context and these include social media networking sites like Facebook.

The NBI-Cybercrime Division assisted the NBI 7 agents in tracing the social media user.

NBI 7 agents, who used the tool, learned that the 17-year-old primary suspect John (not his real name) had been communicating with Silawan through Facebook messenger.

Silawan often tagged John’s Facebook account and she was a follower of his account. The agents then subjected the Facebook account to technical surveillance and examination.

John admitted he had a relationship with the victim, but it ended last Feb. 28.

Agents took screenshots of the victim’s Facebook account and messenger. They noticed that Silawan often exchanged messages with another Facebook user, whom the agents later learned was John.

The messages revealed that the two were in a relationship, and that they planned to meet outside the Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Barangay Pajac, Lapu-Lapu City at 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 10.

NBI fielded its investigators and obtained 11 closed circuit television camera (CCTV) footage from establishments, including the Pajac Barangay Hall and the buildings near where Silawan’s body was found in Barangay Bankal on Monday morning, March 11.

The videos proved that John was the same person who often communicated with Silawan on Facebook.

A video captured Silawan’s feet and sandals at 5:50 p.m. on Sunday, March 10. Witnesses identified that it was Silawan walking outside the church.

Another CCTV footage taken from a hardware store near the church showed Silawan eating “balut” with a teenage boy, her fellow alms collector.

Pajac Barangay Hall’s CCTV captured John wearing a cap and dark shirt. He was holding his cell phone while walking toward the church.

John later crossed the street. He met Silawan, while the latter’s friend was going inside the church.

Moments later, Silawan hurriedly got out of the gate of the church. John took off his cap and held it by his left hand.

The other CCTV videos showed Silawan walking side by side with John toward a school.

The CCTV camera mounted on the entrance gate of Pacific Villa 1 captured Silawan and John at 6:38 p.m. This was the last CCTV footage obtained by NBI agents.

Pacific Villa 1 is near the vacant lot in Bankal where the body of Silawan was found.

Investigators believe the crime happened between 6 and 7 p.m. Sunday, March 10. Silawan had been dead for 12 hours before she was found past 6 a.m. Monday, March 11, according to the post-mortem conducted by NBI medico-legal officer Rene Cam. (from AYB, GPL of Superbalita Cebu, KAL)