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Bree Jonson's Wounds are Likely 'Signs of Struggle', Her Family's Lawyers Say

They counter the police narrative.
by Pia Regalado
Sep 23, 2021
Photo/s: YouTube/Artinformal

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's neck wounds and the bruises in her body showed that she struggled before she died, her family's lawyers said Thursday, as they tried to trace the events leading to her death while she was with billionaire's son Julian Ongpin.

They were countering reports that the 30-year-old painter did not struggle before she died at a surf resort in La Union, which was reiterated also on Thursday by Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, chief of the Philippine National Police.

Ongpin had claimed that Jonson took her own life with a cat leash in the wee hours of Sept. 18, that's why she was wounded in the neck. The son of tycoon Roberto Ongpin has not been linked to Jonson's death but was charged with cocaine possession. The pair both tested positive for drugs.

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

"Contrary to prior statements circulating on social media, the initial medicolegal report of Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center showed signs of struggle. There were bruises found in some other parts of Breanna's body other than her neck," Sunga Salandanan and Ampuan Law Offices said in a statement.

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Citing an autopsy report, Eleazar said there were no signs of struggle. A second autopsy is being readied, the lawyers said.

"One thing that they explained is pataas kasi ang marking ng ligature, so most likely ay talagang pataas siya pero 'yun nga, puwede naman kasing pataas na hinang (hanged), o pataas na inangat (ang katawan) 'diba?" the PNP chief said.

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Ongpin's arm was also bruised. However, regional police chief Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Peralta, earlier said this was not caused by struggling with Jonson. Peralta quoted from an incident report from SOCO.

What CCTV footage shows

Investigators have so far reviewed footage from one CCTV camera, positioned outside the pair's room at Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel in La Union. There was no surveillance camera inside the room, Eleazar said. 

"May occasion na nakita silang parehong nag-iinuman at walang makikita na let's say na talagang may struggle," said Eleazar.

Jonson's legal team said had also viewed the CCTV footage. The artist and Ongpin had a "heated altercation minutes before she was found unconscious in their hotel room," the lawyers said.

The two were seen going in and out of their rooms before locking themselves in. About 20 minutes after, Ongpin went out and climbed to the fourth floor. He reeentered the room, went out, grabbed a ladder and positioned it against the wall outside their room where the comfort room window was located.

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Ongpin climbed a ladder and removed three layers of jalousie glass panes, the lawyers said. His attempt to open the room explained the marks found on his arm, Peralta said earlier. 

Ongpin then stepped down, went to the hostel lobby, reentered their room and stayed there for about five minutes. When he got out, a hostel staff came up to open the room with him. This time, Jonson's body can be seen from the lobby's CCTV, it said. She was then rushed to the hospital, where she was declared dead on arrival.

Eleazar appealed for patience as he awaits more information regarding the case.

"This is just part of the investigation and we are not discounting anything na puwede magresulta na maaaring maiba," he said.

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