Marital trouble behind Virac murder-suicide

The couple in happier times

Trouble had been brewing between the rookie police officer and his wife for some time even before Saturday’s tragic incident in which the lawman fatally shot his wife and three-year old child before killing himself.

This was indicated to the Tribune by a police official, who requested anonymity as the probe into the deaths of Patrolman Jaymar Sarmiento Malasa, 25, his wife Joy Villegas-Malasa, 28, and their child Marjay, 3, continued last week.

According to the official police report, the Virac police station received a phone call from a concerned citizen regarding the shooting incident in barangay Hawan Ilaya at 1:07 AM of Jan. 15, 2022.

Personnel of the station, together with a unit from the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), responded to the call for assistance and found the couple dead and bathed in their own blood.

Beside the wife was the gravely-wounded boy, who was still alive when the team brought him out of the house for treatment at the hospital but unfortunately died on the way.

Initial investigation showed that after Pat. Malasa came home from a drinking spree, the couple had a heated argument inside the small bedroom.

For still undetermined reasons, the officer drew his service firearm and fired at his wife, with the bullet hitting Joy at the back of the head.

The projectile then exited her head to hit Marjay, whom she was then carrying in her arms.

The woman fell face down on the floor, half-out of the bedroom door, with the wounded child beside her.

Apparently shocked by what he had done, Malasa turned the weapon on himself and pulled the trigger. The police found him sprawled on the bed, less than a meter away from his wife.

Elements of the Catanduanes Provincial Forensic Unit processed the crime scene and recovered two bullets as well as the 9mm pistol used in the killing.

A medico-legal examination at the Virac Rural Health Unit confirmed that all three victims died from a bullet wound in the head.

While the report pointed to jealousy as the alleged motive behind the incident, the Virac police is conducting a deeper investigation into the matter.

In the same report, the leadership of the Catanduanes Provincial Police Office expressed its sadness over the incident and extended its deepest sympathy to the grieving families.

The newly-designated provincial director, Col. Benjamin Balingbing Jr., reminded his officers and men to be responsible in the use and handling of their service firearms and vowed to implement several interventions in relation to the incident.

Information gathered by the Tribune showed that the former Joy Villegas worked at the Metro Gaisano at the Alabang Town Center in Metro Manila before she met the younger policeman.

A graduate of Hawan National High School before studying at the Christian Polytechnic Institute of Catanduanes (CPIC), she apparently went to the metropolis to seek greener pastures.

While being a full-time housewife and mother, she dabbled in online selling of jewelry and beauty products, describing herself in her Facebook account as “owner and CEO” of Aiyajhoy online shop.

It is claimed that she had a child by a previous relationship which was allegedly marked by spousal abuse.

On the other hand, Malasa entered the Philippine National Police service after finishing the Advanced Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC).

He was assigned to the Catanduanes 2nd Police Mobile Force Company (Cat 2PMFC) and later detailed to the Catanduanes Provincial Intelligence Unit (CatPIU) as designated searcher during operations against illegal drugs.

It is claimed that he first reported for duty at CatPIU on Jan. 10, but had permission to take time off on the next two days.

The Tribune sought an interview with some members of the family, who politely refused as they were busy preparing for the wake of the victims.

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