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Bree Jonson Died of Asphyxia, Positive for Drugs, Police Say

Julian Ongpin claims she hanged herself, investigators say.
by Pia Regalado
Sep 22, 2021
Photo/s: Bree Jonson's Instagram Page

(Trigger warning: Story mentions violence, intentional self-harm that may be disturbing for some. If you are having thoughts of suicide, know that help is always here. You are not alone. Call the National Center For Mental Health 24/7 Crisis Hotline 1553, 0917 899 8727(USAP), and/or 7-989-8727 (USAP).)

Artist Bree Jonson died of asphyxia and traces of cocaine were found in her body, police said Wednesday, as the investigation into case proceeded.

Jonson's companion in the La Union resort room where she was found dead, billionaire's scion Julian Ongpin, also tested positive for drugs. The whereabouts of the son of tycoon Roberto Ongpin are unknown.

Asphyxia means a loss of oxygen, commonly caused by strangulation or choking. Police could not immediately say the cause of the asphyxiation in Jonson's case.

READ: Artist Bree Jonson Found Dead, Last Seen with Billionaire Roberto Ongpin's Son

Jonson was autopsied Monday night, two days after her death, said Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Peralta, police director for the Ilocos Region.

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"Gusto ko na rin paalam sa publiko na tapos na 'yung pag-conduct ng autopsy sa kanya Monday. Ang initial finding sa autopsy, ang cause of death ni Brianna ay asphyxia. Kasama na rin dito 'yung urine test na nakuha sa bladder n'ya, si Brianna tested positive for cocaine use," he told ANC in an interview.

Ongpin was initially detained after police found 12.6 grams of cocaine in their room. Police initially filed a drug possession complaint as there was no evidence yet to link him to Jonson's death.

The inquest prosecutor ordered Ongpin's release from police custody around Monday noon. He was invited back to the regional police office Tuesday, coming in from Baguio where he was staying.

"Sabi ko nga kahapon na inimbitahan natin si Julian, mabuti naman ang resulta dahil fully cooperating siya, nagpunta siya agad sa ating himpilan with his attorney," said Peralta.

Ongpin alleged that Jonson took her own life inside the bathroom. His attempt to open the room explained the marks found on his arm, Peralta said. Jonson's mother, Sally, claimed it could be struggle marks.

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"Na-establish ng ating SOCO personnel na 'yung mga sugat sa forearm n'ya, sa katawan n'ya ay not caused by struggle coming from Brianna."

The ligature marks found on Jonson's neck were caused by a cat leash, said Peralta

"Ang allegation ni Julian Ongpin ay nag-commit nga raw ng suicide itong si Brianna so maaaring ang cat chain ang ginamit n'ya to hang herself inside the CR but that we cannot fully conclude as of this time. Tinatapos kasi natin lahat ng examination."

Aside from cocaine, authorities also found anti-depressants in the room along with Jonson's ID issued by the Manila government stating she had a psychosocial disability. Sally Jonson earlier said her daughter was taking drugs for anxiety.

For now, Ongpin's whereabouts are unknown, the police director said. Jonson's family feared that he might flee the country, given his billionaire father's influence.


Bree Jonson's Mom Appeals to Roberto Ongpin: Don't Use Your Power

Continue reading below ↓

Julian Ongpin Tests Positive for Drugs, Whereabouts Unclear: PNP Chief

PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said he tasked all concerned PNP units to coordinate to "ensure the availability of Ongpin" as the investigation continues.

"Wala kaming kinikilingan sa pag-imbestiga dito kahit na sabihin nating bilyonaryo o maimpluwensyang pamilya itong Ongpin. Sinusunod lang po natin ang tamang pagpapatupad ng batas," Peralta said.

"Gusto nating mabigyan ng tunay na hustisya ang pamilya ni Brianna kung may totoong foul play sa kanya at kung hindi naman o walang foul play, gusto naman nating mabigyan ng hustisya at tamang laban ang pamilya naman ni Julian."

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