Dacera case: ’Late’ to swab, re-examine body for possible rape evidence, says forensic expert

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 7)— It may be too late for authorities to get swab samples from Christine Angelica Dacera’s body to establish potential evidence for rape, according to a forensic expert.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun told CNN Philippines on Thursday that sexual assault victims are normally advised to seek help and examination at the “soonest possible time.” It has been six days since the flight attendant was found dead in a hotel room in Makati City.

TIMELINE: The Christine Dacera Case

“If you’re going to re-examine the body to collect in hindsight materials like this, it’s late in the day,” Fortun, who was not involved in the examination of Dacera's remains, said in an interview with The Source.

“What can you still get? You have already washed (the body), so you might have lost already material there," she pointed out. "And there’s a possibility of contamination. Everything that the body is exposed to, potentially, could be left on it. So swabbing-wise, to me, it’s late."

Fortun also stressed that there is a "critical time frame" for such examination, which is within 72 hours. “If the alleged assault is beyond 72 hours, then they don’t use that rape kit anymore,” she noted.

Three respondents earlier detained in connection with Dacera’s case were released on Wednesday following the order of the Makati City Prosecutor’s Office, which noted that more evidence is needed to establish if the New Year’s incident was a rape-slay.

The tagged individuals have maintained innocence and denied the allegations earlier slapped against them.

An initial medico-legal report obtained by CNN Philippines listed "ruptured aortic aneurysm” as Dacera’s cause of death.

A second autopsy was conducted before was Dacera's body was flown to General Santos City on Thursday, aiming to dispute initial findings that she died of natural causes. The family, however, decided to keep its results confidential for the meantime.