The suspect for killing and peeling the face of Christine Lee Silawan was found dead inside a jail in Cebu.
Based on information obtained from Central Visayas police chief Brigadier General Albert Ignatius Ferro on Monday, a fellow inmate found 44-year-old Renato Llenes unconscious inside the infirmary cell in Lapu-Lapu City jail.
Llenes was rushed to Lapu-Lapu City District Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival by the doctor.
The suspect’s cause of death has not been revealed.
In March 2019, the 16-year-old went missing after leaving a 6 pm Church Mass on Sunday. When her body was discovered the following morning, it was found that she had been stabbed 30 times and had part of her face sliced off.
Suspect for killing Christine Silawan ‘inspired’ by Momo Challenge
Renato Llenes, aged 45, said he killed Christine after she refused to have sex with him. He said he became obsessed with his victim after grooming her on Facebook under the alias of ‘C J Diaz’.
He said he met Christine in person on March 10, a day before she was found dead and mutilated on a vacant lot in Lapu-Lapu City.
Llenes said the teenager walked away from him after discovering his real age and identity. He described how he had already been angered when Christine told him that she was no longer a virgin.
He then became violent and attempted to rape her but was unable to get an erection.
After this, he stabbed her to death with a pair of scissors, he claimed. He told police that he cut off her face to conceal her identity.
He claimed that he learned how to peel the skin off a human face through “Facebook, YouTube, and the Momo Challenge”. The last of these is a controversial online fad blamed for encouraging children to self-harm.
The suspect said he had been on drugs at the time and surrendered because his conscience was bothering him.
In June 2019, Llenes, however, plead not guilty for killing Silawan. Lawyer Manuel Degolacion, his counsel, said Llenes entered the not guilty plea in the hope of downgrading the case to homicide.
Degolacion said that by pleading not guilty, the court would still hear the prosecution and determine if the killing of Christine met the requirement for it to be considered murder.
He emphasized that they only wished to mitigate the punishment for Llenes by entering the not guilty plea, and his previous confession was not being retracted.