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PHILIPPINES ‘Chop-chop’ lady killer deported to the US

Whisenhunt’s 25-year sentence at the national penitentiary was commuted by six years

By Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent
March 13, 2013

Manila: An American automotive executive behind one of the country’s most gruseome murders has been deported to the US after spending 19 years at the national penitentiary.

Stephen Mark Whisenhunt, who killed his Filipina partner, Elsa Santos-Castillo in 1993, boarded a flight to Los Angeles on February 28, two months after he was released from the National Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa, the Bureau of Immigrations (BI) said.

Whisenhunt was convicted in November 2001 for the murder of Castillo and was sentenced to serve life imprisonment (reclusion perpetua), or 25 years in jail. However, because of “good conduct”, his jail sentence was reduced by six years.

Philippine law allows prisoners sentenced to reclusion perpetua to be eligible for commutation of sentence and their release from detention is computed using a formula called good conduct time allowance.

According to Immigrations chief Ricardo David Jr, Whisenhunt has been banned from entering the country. “We have placed him in our blacklist so he could no longer return to the Philippines. His involvement in a gruesome crime makes him a very undesirable alien who should not be allowed to re-enter our country,” he said.

Handover to immigration

After being sentenced by the suburban Pasig City regional trial court to reclusion perpetua in 2001 for the 1993 murder of Castillo, Whisenunt was released from the Bilibid prisons on Deccember 27, 2012 and was turned over to the immigration department to be deported to the US.

The Castillo murder had been one of the country’s most publicised cases as the developments were closely followed by the local and American press. The story spun off two movies, of which one, ‘Chop-Chop Lady, the Elsa Castillo Story’, was top billed by the current president’s sister Kris Aquino.

According to court records, Castillo was stabbed to death by Whisenhunt inside his condominium in Greenhills in suburban San Juan on September 24, 1993. The American worked as manager of Apex Motor Corporation, a local car distributor.

In an effort to conceal the murder, he chopped Castillo’s body into pieces using a kitchen knife and stashed it in a garbage bag.

Several hours after the murder, the American executive, according to a testimony by his personal chauffeur Demetrio Ravelo, dumped parts of the victim’s body along the road in Bagac town in Bataan province northeast of Manila. Later, Ravelo identified Whisenhunt as the culprit.

Both Whisenhunt and Castillo were married earlier but estranged from their spouses.

Whisenhunt’s lawyers have long sought his release from detention, citing alleged errors committed by the Board of Pardons and Parole in computing the exact time he served in prison.

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