The body of Judith Campbell, a peacecorp volunteer who disappeared hiking in Banaue, was found a few days ago, and is being autopsied today.

At first, given the rugged nature of the hiking area, it was first suspected that she might have fell off a cliff and died, and local officials had stressed that hiking alone is risky on the mountain trails, even those commonly used by tourists.
However, once the body was found buried, the investigation turned into a homicide investigation. Police here are already following leads to her killer, suspected to be a local man and husband of a local masseuse who had met Campbell. A boy reported seeing a man running from the area of the creek on the day of the murder, and later saw the suspect visiting the grave area several days before the body was found in a creek bed and not at the foot of the cliff where many had suspected she had fallen. Although Ms. Campbell’s purse and money have since been found, the suspect was reported seen carrying a backpack similar to the one used by Ms. Campbell. He has since gone missing, and police are planning to search his residence as soon as the courts approve a search warrant.
Preliminary reports say the cause of death was a blow to the head by a piece of wood. It is unsure where the actual murder took place, and it was suspected that the body had been moved from elsewhere.
However, although burglary and theft is common, violent crime against tourists is not, and Philippine officials are outraged that one who only came her to assist poor children was killed in such a manner.

 

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo condoled yesterday with the family of Campbell.

“Ms. Campbell came to the Philippines to work in the Peace Corps’ ecological and educational programs. Her last assignment was helping Filipinos hone their English language skills in order to better face the challenges of this new age of globalization. This is a testament to her great character, generosity and dedication to serve others,” Romulo said in a statement.

The DivineWord college of Legazpi celebrated a mass in honor of her.

Many in the area remember her enthusiasm for local foods and tradition:

Most of them said how kind, dedicated and loving Julia was. After being a victim of Typhoon Reming herself, Julia still managed to spend most of her time helping people in Brgy. Padang , Legazpi City rebuild their houses and recover from the horrors of the devastating calamity….

A student who gave his message said that Julia changed his negative impression on Americans. Julia has sincerely and patiently helped him appreciate life. For him Julia is not only an American nor a Filipina but a Bicolana too who has developed a flare in cooking and eating Bicol dishes which she is very proud of. One picture of Julia shows her grating coconut meat from the shell using “kudkuran.”
Colleagues and students couldn’t hold back their tears for Julia during the mass and even after that.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket 

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