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American Peace Corps Worker Murdered
Search for missing woman turns into hunt for her killer
Alex Argote (alexphil)     Print Article 
Published 2007-04-23 04:56 (KST)   
The search for missing Peace Corp volunteer Julia Campbell ended Wednesday when searchers found her body in a shallow grave. Campbell had been missing since April 8 when she decided to hike the panoramic hills of Batad in Banaue, a mountainous province in the northern Philippines

As her body was flown to Manila, to be kept under 24-hour police guard while the Philippine government waited for a U.S. forensics team to arrive, a new search for her killer began to take shape.

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An initial police investigation turned up a piece of bloodstained hardwood near the makeshift grave, which they considered the murder weapon. Robbery was reported to be the prime motive, as the American woman's backpack, money and mobile phone were missing.

Police investigators assumed that the U.S. peace worker had been bludgeoned to death as they had found palpable skull damage.

After some persuasive interrogation, villagers living in the area where Campbell was last seen alive reported seeing a tribesman lugging the dead peace worker's backpack. The Banaue police chief declined to divulge the suspect's identity pending an approved judge's warrant for the tribesman's arrest.

An autopsy on Saturday confirmed that Campbell had been clubbed to death.

"The cause of death involves multiple blunt traumatic injuries of the head," the chief inspector at the Philippine National Police crime laboratory told a press briefing.

The murder of the Peace Corps volunteer shocked the predominantly Christian nation. Foreign tourists enjoying the breathtaking scenery of the Banaue area hastily fled when the grim news of Campbell's fate was announced to the public.

The tourists' exodus alarmed locals who are heavily dependent on the relatively large tourist industry in the area. Some of the residents of Banaue were angry at having to suffer for a crime committed by one of their countrymen. The police promised a speedy resolution of the crime and vowed to bring all those responsible to justice.

In wake of the tragedy, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said that Peace Corps volunteers assigned in the Philippines would not be pulled out.

쏷here is no pullout. There is no downgrade, said DFA spokesman Claro Cristobal.

However, he told the press that security for the more than 100 American Peace Corps volunteers in the country would be increased.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Alex Argote

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