Artist Breanna ‘Bree’ Jonson dies from strangulation – Ilocos PNP


The sensational death of visual artist Bree Jonson was found to be caused by strangulation, police said, according to her autopsy results. She also tested positive for cocaine use.

According to Ilocos Region police chief Brig. Gen. Emmanuel Peralta, the report indicated that Jonson succumbed to asphyxia, or loss of oxygen, judging from the ligature mark in her neck.

An investigation into the scene produced a cat chain, which is suspected to have been the strangulation instrument, however, Peralta noted that her remains did not suggest that she fought for her life.

“Her body was clean, her back, her feet, front and hands,” he said in Tagalog. “She only had marks on her neck, there were ligature marks there.”

Meanwhile, her boyfriend and last known companion, Julian Ongpin, 29, son of businessman and former government official Roberto Ongpin is part of a list of personalities monitored for possible departure from the country in connection with the artist’s death.

Jonson, 30, was discovered unconscious in a room in La Union resort Flotsam Jetsam on Sept. 18 and was rushed to a San Fernando City hospital where she was declared dead on arrival.

Ongpin, who shared the room with her, was arrested after he tested positive for illegal drugs and 12.6 grams of cocaine were found in his possession. Drug-related cases were filed against him in connection to this.

Deputy provincial prosecutor Braulio Tade released him the following Monday given that the “warrantless arrest” was not allowed given the specific situation. Justice undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar said that the prosecutor had decided on a preliminary investigation as opposed to filing a criminal case against the magnate’s son, in order to collect evidence of whether or not there was foul play in Jonson’s death.

The Department of Justice quickly became involved with secretary Menardo Guevarra swearing a thorough investigation into the case.

According to reports, Ongpin and Jonson checked in at the resort in San Juan town on Friday night (Sept. 17). They returned after an evening out with friends. In the early morning, hostel staff disclosed that they heard the pair having an argument, prompting them to call the police, who found the artist unconscious.

In Ongpin’s version of the story, he claimed that her death was by suicide. According to Peralta, “he [Ongpin] tried to enter the [comfort room] through a small window in his desire to go in because Brianna was there.”

Jonson’s mother, Salome, in a television interview, declared that they do not “buy” that Jonson died of a drug overdose or suicide. From photos she saw of her daughter’s body (Salome is out of the country), there were strangulation marks, which suggested foul play.

The mother reportedly added: “When somebody sent us a pic of the guy [Ongpin], ‘yung mugshot niya, talagang nakita namin na merong deep scratch and wound sa arm. Seeing wounds, deep marks…sa arm niya only meant that my daughter fought for her life.”

Her belief that Jonson did not die by suicide is bolstered by her perception that her daughter was looking forward to an art exhibit in La Union in December this year.

Bree Jonson was a graduate of industrial engineering at Ateneo de Davao in 2012, after which she flew to Manila and enrolled in the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts. She studied under painters Jason Montinola and Ivan Roxas.

Her work, which often featured animals, depicted “the relationship humans have with their environment, and the divide that has grown between them, a divide that displaces them as other, different from humans, and lower in importance and hierarchy”, according to the biography on her website.

Her work has been showcased at various exhibits and galleries, both in and out of the country.

Photo: Gulf News / Philippine Star

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