The passing of one of the main suspects in the gruesome murder of veteran actress Nida Blanca in 2001 has dealt the stagnant case another serious blow.
Philip Medel—who initially confessed to the killing of Blanca only to retract his statement days later—died last night, April 7, while confined at the Pasig General Hospital.
According to the medical report given to the media by the patient's attending doctor, Medel died at 8:45 p.m. because of "sepsis secondary to pneumonia."
In an interview with dzBB radio, Dr. Allan Custodio also revealed that Medel was already having trouble breathing when he was brought to the hospital by the personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) two days ago.
Medel gained public attention after he was tagged by the authorities as the primary suspect in the killing of Blanca. The highly-respected actress was found dead at the parking lot of the Atlanta Center in Greenhills, San Juan on November 6, 2001.
Blanca, whose real name was Dorothy Jones, sustained multiple stab wounds. She was slumped in the backseat of her Nissan Sentra when discovered by the building's security guard.
Medel implicated Blanca's American husband, Rod Strunk, as the alleged mastermind behind the murder. Days following the confession, Medel publicly retracted his initial claims and accused the police of torture to make him owe up to the crime. The suspect's sudden turnaround, however, failed to sway the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which pressed murder charges against Strunk and Medel in 2003. The security guards of the establishment where Blanca's body was found was charged with obstruction of justice.
Strunk was already in the U.S. when the case was filed. He successfully evaded arrest after the U.S. government denied the extradition request forwarded by the Philippine government to enable Strunk to face trial here in the country.
Rod Strunk died on July 11, 2007 after falling from the balcony of the Tracy Inn in California. Police ruled out accident as the reason behind the incident and listed "suicide" as the official cause of Strunk's death.