- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2007

MANILA — Philippine police have filed a murder complaint against a woodcarver who confessed to beating to death a Peace Corps volunteer from Fairfax while she was hiking alone, officials said yesterday.

Juan Duntugan has admitted he bludgeoned Julia Campbell with a rock and a wooden stick in Ifugao province’s Batad village on April 8, national police Chief Oscar Calderon said. She had planned to see the area’s famed mountainside rice terraces.

Philippine police usually file formal complaints based on evidence they have gathered for prosecutors, who then decide whether to file specific charges against a suspect.

Mr. Duntugan, 24, struggled to wipe away tears with his handcuffed hands at a press conference in Manila. He bowed his head before TV cameras and photographers and wore a red shirt marked “USA” with an American flag.

In a signed statement to police, a copy of which was seen by the Associated Press, Mr. Duntugan described in detail how he hit Miss Campbell with a rock and dragged her body into a ditch, where he struck her repeatedly with a stick. He left but returned hours later to bury her under cover of darkness.

Miss Campbell’s body was found April 18 in a shallow grave.

Mr. Duntugan said he was annoyed because of a quarrel with a neighbor, who had been firing his gun in their neighborhood. When Miss Campbell accidentally bumped him on a narrow trail, Mr. Duntugan dropped his bag and “my mind went blank” and attacked her.

Asked by a police interrogator how long he hit her head with a stone, he replied: “I think about five minutes. I don’t remember how many times I hit her with that stone.”

Mr. Duntugan surrendered Friday in Ifugao, about 160 miles north of Manila.

Guided by Mr. Duntugan, investigators have recovered his bloodied shirt and cap, the wooden stick he used to hit Miss Campbell and some of her belongings near the scene of killing, Chief Calderon told reporters.

Ifugao provincial prosecutor Marvin Ngayawan told AP he and other prosecutors would evaluate the evidence submitted by police, including the statements of at least six witnesses, then decide whether he could be charged in court with murder or homicide.

Miss Campbell, 40, had worked as a freelance journalist for the New York Times and other press organizations.

Her death has drawn national attention because of her volunteer work in Legazpi city in the Bicol region, where she last worked as an English teacher, and in nearby Sorsogon province, where she helped start an ecology awareness campaign.

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