Nalzaro: Solving a crime is like solving a puzzle

Bobby Nalzaro
·5 min read

Solving a crime is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. Although jigsaw is a game while a crime is a serious matter, the way to solve these two are difficult and tedious. Here are some similarities of a jigsaw puzzle and crime. Piecing the whole picture together — both the jigsaw puzzle and a crime need to be solved and in order to do that there is a need to see the whole picture. In the case of a crime, an investigator needs to see the bigger picture so as to know who committed the crime and why he or she did the crime.

Criminal investigators use evidence, witnesses and interviews to solve crimes and prosecute criminals. Their goal is to understand the full story of a crime, so they must ensure they are completing an accurate and thorough investigation. Investigators work with forensic specialists to test evidence to help build a case against an offender and either confirm their suspicions or learn new information.

The killing of Ritchie Nepomuceno and the alleged suicide of SSgt. Celso Colita raise more questions than answers. It’s a separate case but if our investigators will really religiously do their job by digging deeper into the two cases, maybe they will stumble into something and find out that the two cases are related to each other.

Nepomuceno, 35, who was tagged by the police as being involved in an illegal drug syndicate, was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding gunmen along the highway of N. Bacalso Ave. in Barangay Basak Pardo, Cebu City on Monday, April 19, 2021. She died on the spot after sustaining two gunshot wounds in the head.

Nepomuceno was the complainant against 11 policemen formerly assigned with the Drug Enforcement Unit of the Sawang Calero (Station 6) Police Station. She accused those policemen of robbery-extortion after authorities raided her residence in Tungkil, Minglanilla last March and accused the leader of the team, SSgt. Colita, of raping her twice in a motel.

What was ironic, after Nepomuceno was gunned down around 5:30 p.m., Colita allegedly committed suicide inside the office of the Drug Enforcement Unit at Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 four hours later. Was it really a case of suicide or was there foul play?

In the United States, investigators will not immediately conclude suicide. A suicide case is initially treated as a murder case and should be further investigated. Investigators will only reach a conclusion if all evidence, testimonies of witnesses and forensic findings point to suicide. But here our investigators just concluded that Colita took his own life even without enough basis.

The police claimed that the killing of Nepomuceno had something to do with her involvement in the illegal drug trade.

Nepomuceno had been separated from her husband Danilo for several years and had a relationship with a known drug personality who was arrested and is presently detained at the Cebu City Jail. Police investigators should not only focus on this angle. They should also include in theory the possible involvement of the 11 policemen whom she accused of robbery-extortion, especially Colita, who was allowed to go out of the PRO 7 compound on the day Nepomuceno was murdered even though he was supposed to be under camp restriction. The sentinel’s logbook at the PRO 7 showed that Colita was with his escort, Corporal Christopher Lorete, when he went out that day at 8:37 a.m. for a medical checkup. He didn’t return to the camp until around 6 p.m., or a few minutes after Nepomuceno was shot dead.

Sources said Colita took a side trip in the afternoon to the Sawang Calero Police Station to attend a virtual hearing. Sawang Calero and Basak Pardo are a few kilometers away and Basak Pardo to PRO 7 is also a few kilometers away.

Lorete should also be investigated and should submit himself to a paraffin test to clear his name of any involvement in the killing of Nepomuceno. The firearm used by Colita to allegedly shoot himself and the firearm of Lorete, if he has one, should also be submitted for ballistic examination for possible cross-matching with any slug or empty shell recovered in the crime scene where Nepomuceno was murdered. The scene of the crime is a crowded area, and I am sure many people witnessed the shooting and the incident was caught on security cameras installed in nearby establishments.

Colita allegedly shot himself inside the comfort room of the DEU after being investigated by DEU chief Maj. Glenn Hife.

Sources said that Colito was left-handed. If a person is left-handed, his strength is in the left hand. He will use that hand to carry or lift a thing of weight, especially holding and squeezing the trigger of a firearm. But why is it that the entry of the bullet was in the right temple of Colita? And there were no signs of “tattooing” or gunpowder burns in the temple suggesting that he was shot at close range but with a little distance.

Where did Colita get the firearm when he was disarmed after being placed under camp restriction? Who smuggled the gun and gave it to him? Did his conscience totally bother him to the point that it drove him to commit suicide? Bothered by what? By the rape case Nepomuceno filed against him or was it because he had a hand in the killing of Nepomuceno?

Major Hife and the other policemen who were inside the room should also submit themselves to a paraffin test to erase any doubt of their involvement in the death of Colita.

The police should initiate the move to persuade the relatives of Colita to submit the latter’s cadaver for an autopsy to determine if he really committed suicide. Relatives of a policeman who commit suicide cannot claim benefits as the death is not in line with official duty. At this early stage, the investigation is still messy and confusing. I hope the investigators handling these cases will religiously do their job so that truth and justice will prevail.