SOCO: The search for Holly Anne
September 9, 2008. It was just an ordinary day for Myrna Escobar. Like she does everyday, she brought her seven-year-old daughter, Holly Anne, to her class before going to the school where she was a teacher.
In the afternoon, she waited for Holly Anne so they could go home together. But hours passed and Holly Anne never came. “Kinabahan ako dahil hindi siya dumaan sa school,” Myrna says. “Mga quarter to five, inaantay ko na siya dahil 4:20pm ang uwian nila.”
Thinking that her daughter went ahead without her, Myrna went home. But when she arrived at their house in San Narciso, Bulacan, Holly Anne was nowhere to be found.
“Pag-uwi ko, walang gamit, walang shoes, walang bag, wala lahat,” Myrna recalls. “Iba na ang aking pakiramdam.”
Myrna and her husband searched their village.
“Umikot-ikot kaming dalawa,” she says. Pinuntahan namin mga classmates niya na hindi naman niya pinupuntahan, wala po talaga. Hanggang gabi. Nung mga oras na ‘yun, nagpunta na po kami sa pulis, inireport na namin.”
The San Narciso immediately launched a search operation for Holly Anne.
“Sinundan namin ‘yung daan papunta sa school,” on-case investigator P/Insp. Arnel Dial says. They came across one of Holly Anne’s classmate, a girl whom we shall call “Lani”. According to Lani, she saw Holly Anne talking to a man on a bicycle.
Aside from Lani, two more students of San Narcisco Elementary School whom we shall call “Karen” and “Riza” said they saw a suspicious man in the school grounds the afternoon Holly Anne disappeared.
“Lumabas kami, bumili kami ice scramble, biglang may tumabi sa’ming lalaki,” Karen says. “’Di naman po ganoo matangkad, medyo maitim, mapula ang mata.”
“Nakaupo lang po siya na nakayuko po tapos pagtingin niya sa amin, mapula po ang mga mata niya,” Riza reiterates. “Patingin-tingin po siya sa amin. Natakot po kami kasi baka po kung ano ang gawin niya sa’min. Buti na lang po, nag-bell, pumasok na kami.”
Myrna’s worry intensified.
“Naisip ko na baka kinidnap na siya, na pwede siyang itindia,” she says. “Pwede rin ‘yung gagawing palimos-limos o pwede rin kukunin ‘yung kanyan laman loob.”
Despite this, they continued to search for Holly Anne.
After two weeks of searching, they finally found the seven-year-old.
|Where is Holly Anne?|
Finding Holly Anne
A barangay official from Barangay La Paz went to the San Narciso Police to report a body they found in one of the grassy areas in the village.
When they reached the area, they saw the body of a young girl.
“Namamaga na, meron siyang handkerchief sa leeg, ‘yun ang nagsakal sa kanya,” P/Insp. Dial says. “Nung nakita namin na naka-uniform ‘yung batang natagpuan, inisip na naming na ‘yun ‘yung hinahanap namin. Pinatawag ‘yung mga magulang.”The authorities also recovered several pieces of physical evidence confirming that the girl was indeed Holly Anne.
|The crime scene.|
“May payong doon na pambata, bag, at mga school supplies,” P/Insp. Dial says. “’Yung panyo, in-identify na nila na sa bata. Tapos ‘yung ID, pangalan talaga ng bata.”
Myrna and her husband rushed to the scene and was devastated by what they saw.
“Kung titingnan mo, nabalot ng plastic ang mukha niya,” Myrna recalls. “Lusaw na lusaw na. Parang natigil ang buhay naming dahil nawala nga ‘yung anak naming, ganun pa ang nangyari. Parang gusto na rin naming magpakamatay.”
Their grief worsened after they found out the result of the post-mortem examination which showed that Holly Anne died due to asphyxia by strangulation. There were also telltale signs that she was raped.
|Evidence. Several physical evidences were found confirming that the dead body found was that of Holly Anne Escobar’s.|
The story of Shampoo
During the course of the investigation, the authorities had a breakthrough. A witness surfaced—a tricycle driver named Anthony Floresca.
According to Anthony, on the night of September 9, he was driving his tricycle when he noticed a suspicious-looking man.
“Papunta akong plaza, namamasada ako, meron akong napansin na tao,” he says. “Sabi ko, sakay kayo. Tinanong ko kung sasakay sila, ginanun niya ‘yung ulo niya.”
“Kilala ko ‘yung tao na ‘yun, tiga-dito lang ‘yun,” he adds. “Matagal na kaming magkakilala. Ka-barangay ko siya.”
He identified the man as one alias “Shampoo.” According to Anthony, he was called Shampoo because he was the town’s notorious peeping tom. He liked sneaking glances on women while they’re bathing.
“Matagal na niyang gawain ‘yun,” Anthony says. Kahit saang bahay, basta may sevice siyang bike, sa CR, talagang sakit na niya ‘yun. Minsan binubugbog siya kapag nahuhuli siya.”
The authorities then conducted a background check on Shampoo and discovered that his real name was Rolly Ballon. They also found out that he’s been reported several times because of his behavior.
“Nagba-bike siya sa mga barangay, kapag may ilaw at may tao dun, hihinto siya, itatabi niya ang bike niya, at maninilip siya,” P/Insp. Dial says.
When the information reacher the Escobar family, Myrna slowly began to piece the puzzle together. According to the Myrna, her husband once caught Shampoo peeping through their home and reported him to the barangay officials.
“Parang naipagdugtong ko na parang ganti kasi naisumbong nga na naninilip,” Myrna says.
The authorities sprung into action and launched a manhunt for Shampoo.
They went to his house but, unfortunately, he was nowhere to be found. But then they discovered that Shampoo had relatives in Quezon City. They tracked him down and arrested him.
From Quezon City, the authorities brought Shampoo to San Narciso, Zambales. He denied having anything to do with Holly Anne’s murder.
“Wala naman katotohanan ‘yun,” Shampoo says.”Hindi ko kilala ‘yung pamilyang ‘yun. Wala naman akong kasalanan sa kanila, bakit nila ako pinagbibintangan.”
But when Shampoo was presented to the witnesses, he was positively identified by them.
Rolly Ballon a.k.a. Shampoo was then charged with rape with homicide.
Shampoo is currently detained at the Iba, Zambales Provincial Jail while his cased is being tried. September 16, 2011