The Biggest High Society Murders That Shocked the Philippines
What makes a high-profile murder case? Often, it's the people involved and the nature of the crime that manages to command media attention and captivate public fascination. Below are the most horrific high-profile murders that remain the talk of Philippine society to this day.
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The Murder of Elvira Manahan
On an otherwise regular morning, Jaime Balatbat walked up the Manahans’ Forbes Park home and asked to see Elvira Ledesma-Manahan. Balatbat, a real estate broker, had just sold the Manahans’ Anahaw Street house to the Puyat family for P8.5 million and as a regular visitor was invited inside by the househelp. Margarita, the maid, offered him a seat and refreshments as it was early in the morning and Manahan would not wake up for a few hours.
The noticeably agitated Balatbat immediately shot Margarita, killing her instantly. Going on a rampage, he moved around the house and shot the Manahans’ other househelpers, Sheila and Estrella. Picking up a dumbbell from the home gym, he then proceeded to the master bedroom where he prodded Manahan to write him a check. After, he shot Manahan and bashed her head in using the dumbbell. Sheila, bloodied and half-alive, managed to crawl out of the gate and call the attention of a neighbor’s maid to notify village security.
The murder of Elvira Manahan was a shock to many in the late ‘80s. In addition to being a socialite, Manahan was a prominent television personality, having hosted evening entertainment show "Two for the Road." The case was so prominent that it was brought up to the level of the Supreme Court. Mysteriously, Balatbat was killed while in police custody for allegedly attempting to escape. His motives for the crime have been tied to gambling debt and drug use.
The Hultman-Chapman Double Murder
In the ‘90s, grisly murders took place in the seemingly quiet enclave of Dasmariñas Village. Those involved were Roland John Chapman, Maureen Hultman, Jussi Olavi Leino, and Claudio Teehankee, Jr., the son of the late former Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee.
After a night out, Leino and Chapman took their friend Hultman to her house in Dasmariñas Village’s Campanilla Street. The three entered the village by car and alighted at the insistence of Hultman as she didn’t want her parents to notice she was coming home late. Chapman stayed inside the car choosing to wait instead. Leino and Hultman were accosted a few minutes into their walk by Claudio Teehankee, Jr. who was driving by in a Mitsubishi Lancer. As he was hounding the two, Chapman approached the Lancer and was shot by Teehankee. The situation quickly escalated and Teehankee shot both Hultman and Leino.
The crime was witnessed by nearby residents’ private security guards and a driver. Chapman and Hultman died as a result of the attack while Leino survived. Teehankee was imprisoned for 21 years and was released under former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s orders. The highly publicized case was reported all over, even reaching the Washington Post.
The René Lindhart Larsen Murder-Suicide
In February 2012, reports surfaced that Danish citizen René Lindhart Larsen shot his Filipino wife Maria Petronilla dead in a residential building in Malate. Further reports revealed that the two were owners of the Michelle Apartments on Mabini Street, and that the wife was actually Maria Petronilla “Cookie” Chanco Syquia-Larsen.
The Syquias are a prominent family who were among the original Manila 400. The 400 was a list of Manila’s oldest society families, all of whom possessed wealth, education, prominence, and pedigree. Spot.ph reports investigators say Larsen shot his wife and their beloved German Shepherd Uzi, both instantly dying as a result of two shots to the head. It's believed Larsen then stabbed himself then jumped off from their ninth-floor apartment unit. Prior to the incident, their housemaid heard the two arguing.