MANILA – Philippine police on Friday said the chief suspect in the killing of a United States Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell has finally surrendered after weeks of a massive manhunt in Ifugao province, north of Manila.
Police said the man, Juan Dontugan, a 25-year old wood sculptor, surrendered peacefully with his mother at around 3.20 p.m. Friday and is now being investigated in connection with Campbell’s slay.
Regional police chief Joseph Adnol said Jane Dontugan, the man’s mother, has convinced the suspect to surrender and answer the accusations against him. Other reports said there could be more than one suspect in the killing of Campbell.
Dontugan’s surrender came after villagers, angered by the killing of Campbell, joined in the hunt for the suspect. Many villagers blamed Dontugan for the decline of the tourism industry in the province, previously one of the most visited in northern Philippines because of its majestic rice terraces and ethnic culture.
Police said Campbell may have been bludgeoned to death. Soldiers and policemen discovered the decomposing body of the 40-year old Virginia native in a shallow grave in the mountain village of Batad in Banaue town.
Police suspect that Campbell may have been raped and then robbed, but the suspect’s wife, denied all accusations against her husband, saying, he is innocent.
“He is innocent of all these charges,” the woman said. She has earlier appealed to her husband to surrender peacefully to authorities. “Please come home because we are all worried about you,” she said.
Campbell, a former journalist, was reported missing since April 8 in Ifugao province where she intended to hike alone.
There are currently 137 Peace Corps Volunteers serving in the Philippines. More than 8,000 volunteers have served in the country since 1961, making it the second oldest Peace Corps program in the world.
Campbell, from Fairfax, Virginia, had served as a college teacher in Legazpi in southern Luzon since she began her Peace Corps service in the Philippines in March 2005. (With a report from Juley Reyes)