MANILA – The Filipino wood sculptor accused of murdering United States Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell has confessed Friday and said he is ready to face the consequences of his crime.
Police said the 25-year old Juan Dontugan surrendered peacefully with his mother at around 3.20 p.m. Friday and is now being investigated in connection with Campbell’s killing.
“It is not really my intention to kill her. It was so sudden,” Dontugan told the ABS-CBN television before his surrender.
Dontugan said he was walking on a mountain trail in the village of Batad in Ifugao’s Banaue town when somebody bumped him from behind. Thinking it was his enemy, Dontugan said he picked up a rock and hit Campbell several times.
“I was stunned and don’t know what to do. I hit her several times in the head and then dragged the body and buried her to hide the crime,” he said.
He said he has enemies in the village and mistook the woman as one of them, but later found out that she was a foreigner.
He denied raping or robbing Campbell. “I did not rape her. Just dragged her body, her clothes and pants were ripped off,” he said. “I have spent sleepless nights thinking about what I did. It is not really my intention to kill her. I was so scared that’s why I hid her body. I am ready to face my crime,” he said.
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.
Soldiers and policemen discovered the decomposing body of the 40-year old Campbell in a shallow grave in Batad village.
Police suspect that Campbell may have been raped and then robbed.
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)