A second autopsy on the body of Breanna "Bree" Jonson, who was found unconscious in a hostel room in La Union on Sept. 18, was conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) after initial reports suggest signs of struggle.
The Sunga Salandandan And Ampuan Law Offices, the Jonson family's legal counsel, released a statement on Sept. 22, hoping "to uncover the truth" surrounding the young artist's death om San Juan, La Union.
"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. The NBI shall conduct another autopsy in Manila," it read.
Both Jonson and her last known companion, Julian Ongpin, tested positive for cocaine use. Ongpin, son of the former trade minister Roberto V. Ongpin, has been charged for possession of cocaine under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of RA 9165.
The prosecution office of La Union, however, released him from detention, saying his apprehension "doesn’t fall under any of the instances of where warrantless arrest is allowed,” as relayed by Ilocos Police Regional Office chief Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Peralta in an ANC interview.
Foul play not ruled out
Peralta said that initial findings from the first autopsy conducted indicate Jonson died of asphyxia or loss of oxygen. He did not say what caused this.
Peralta added that Ongpin claimed Jonson took her own life, but Jonson's mother is contesting this.
Police have said that they aren't ruling out the likelihood of foul play, but Peralta said in an interview with DZBB Super Radyo that it was unlikely.
Together with the NBI and Philippine National Police (PNP), the law firm viewed CCTV footage of Jonson's final moments in the hostel.
"Based on what we saw, Breanna and Julian had a heated altercation minutes before she was found unconscious in their hotel room,” the law firm said.
Aside from 12.6 grams of cocaine, police said they recovered Jonson's PWD ID indicating she has a "psychosocial disability" and her antidepressant medicines.
The law firm provided a blow-by-blow of the CCTV footage, sharing that Jonson and Ongpin were in and out of their room for a few minutes before they locked themselves in.
About 20 minutes later, Ongpin left the room to go to the hostel's fourth floor. He went back into the room for a few seconds and went out again to grab a ladder, which he positioned against the wall outside their comfort room window. He used the ladder to remove three layers of jalousie. After stepping down, he paced by the hostel lobby and went back to the room for about five minutes.
He then went downstairs and came up with a hostel staff to open the room with him. Jonson's unconscious body was seen from the lobby's CCTV and not long after, the incident was reported to authorities. The police arrived and she was brought to the hospital, where the artist was declared dead on arrival.
"As of now, Breanna's family have yet to received a final and conclusive autopsy report of Breanna's body as well as a medicolegal report for Julian's alleged injuries. The family and legal team will diligently undertake to uncover the truth, exhaust all remedies to secure justice for Breanna's untimely demise, and find closure for the family, friends, and loved ones of Breanna," the law firm said.