Filipino fugitive deported, jailed in Cainta

Ezra Dave Maling
Father and daughter Ganthel and Lexy Vergara
Rebeny Grageda Vergara.
Young mother Rebeny Grageda Vergara (extreme left) is seen here in a rare family picture with Baby Alexandra or Lexy and youthful-looking husband Ganthel Vergara (extreme right).

The husband and daughter of a woman killed in Cainta Rizal in 2003 are thankful that the murder suspect has been finally deported and now in jail after sixteen of seeking justice for their loved one.

Ganthel Vergara, husband of murder victim Rebeny Grageda Vergara and their daughter Alexandra or Lexy heaved a big sigh of relief that murder suspect Ezra Dave Maling who hid in California was deported on May 15, 2019 and is now behind bars in Cainta City where the leather belt strangulation murder of Rebeny was committed.

Then five-year-old Lexy instead found her mom Rebeny lifeless when the daughter tried to wake her mom on that fateful morning of March 17, 2003.

Lexy had to see a psychiatrist to recover from the trauma she suffered after the gruesome discovery and leave for the United States to avoid being in the crime scene where she lives.

It took, however, sixteen years before the Vergara father and daughter saw a glimmer of hope that justice would be finally served as Maling proved determined to escape from prosecution.

Now a chef at a Filipino restaurant in Virginia, Ganthel wants Maling to be found guilty and given the capital punishment of life imprisonment or death if death penalty is restored.

Ganthel continued monitoring Maling’s movement right after Maling was alleged to have stolen money from a local Hayward California church that worked for Maling’s lawful permanent resident (green card) status and disappeared. This same church was where he worked as musical director after he escaped from the Philippines and hid in the United States.

Maling, who turned out to a have wife and three children in Fremont, was not heard of from then on until he was reportedly arrested by Yuba City California Sheriff operatives on February 7, 2015 for immigration fraud and was also being considered for deportation.

As this developed, Lexy, now a working student based in Washington DC, received private messages and pictures on Facebook messenger supposedly from a Philippine policewoman trying to reach her.

But frustration got the better of Lexy much like before when she was not able to hear from the policewoman again. She thought to herself that this would be another case of having her hopes high but end up with nothing again.

That was until Ganthel himself texted her to say that Maling would finally be deported through Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents and will be turned over to local police once he lands in Manila International Airport (MIA).

Lexy did not respond to his dad’s text messages as she was in shock, did not really know what to say and how to react on it.

It turned out that Ganthel was also contacted by Cavite Intelligence Group policemen also through Facebook messenger to inform Ganthel that Maling is facing deportation and would be turned over to them once Maling reaches the MIA.

The Cavite Intelligence Group turned Maling over to the Cainta City Police which has jurisdiction on the case.

“As Maling was being turned over to the police officers, he had the temerity to ask for the arrest warrant against him. He then dismissed what was shown him for being an old warrant. It turned out that Maling never knew he was going to be turned over to police authorities after deportation to face the murder charges he tried to escape from,” Ganthel narrated.

Lexy admitted that “It was only when I saw the pictures that he is in the custody of the police that it hit me and I just cried.”

“I am mad, frustrated but I definitely felt much better. I feel happy that at least right now my Mom is resting in peace although justice is on the way yet but at least we are getting there,” a sobbing Lexy recalled. “I feel like I can talk about it more comfortably just because there is justice now somehow that he is in custody. He is gone now and can no longer do this with somebody else. He is going to pay for his crime now.”

Lexy shared that she initially considered forgiving Maling if ever they meet but everything changed after learning from her cousins who were there that Maling dared ask them where Lexy is and then smirked.

“Suddenly, I was very angry because I felt like he did not regret any of it. I felt that was no remorse in him and my cousins got mad. I felt like I was there myself. Now, I no longer think of forgiving him. He deserves whatever happens to him after this arrest. I no longer any sympathy for him because now I know that it has been sixteen years and he never thought about regretting his crime. Why would he smirk at us? It is like rubbing salt on the wounds of the past,” Lexy disclosed.

Lexy knows that it is going to take a lot of prayers, a lot of days for her to forgive Maling but for sure not yet for she feels Maling does not deserve it.

“Maybe one day. Maybe one day so we can have complete peace,” Lexy murmured. “He took somebody so dear from me and that is not right. I haven’t really celebrated Mother’s day. For the last sixteen years, I didn’t like Mother’s day. Nakakainggit (I feel envy). It makes me feel bad that I could have taken my mom to places. It is just something that I could not take back, can never have nor experience. I was young and never knew how Mother’s day was. So I was just like… it is painful. It is still different if you have your Mom. But I was thankful for the time that my Dad was there. He was there all the time. There were times that we don’t understand each other. With me being a girl he cannot understand what I go through like a mom would. He tried. He did his best and I am very grateful for that.”

When asked how challenging it was growing up without a mom, Lexy confessed not feeling comfortable particularly when being asked where her mom is.

“My close friends knew what happened to us but not a lot of people do. My other friends would ask in casual conversations about what my mom is like or what she does. I always say that she got into an accident and is gone. I never talked about it to them because it would be too much for me to do that,” confided Lexy.

Ganthel is wary that Maling’s lawyer-brother may be able to help him get out on bail and may even get him acquitted. He nevertheless is confident that the case against Maling is strong as Maling supposedly emailed Rebeny’s twin sister Redeny right after the crime was committed apologizing for Rebeny’s death.

Unlike Lexy who does not feel for Maling’s family, Ganthel feels bad that they would not have a father physically with them but reiterates that this is the price Maling had to pay.

Ganthel also want those who hid Maling from authorities be charged in court for harboring a criminal.

Both father and daughter reminded, though, that Maling may not be with his family but is still alive and can still communicate with him while Lexy had her mother taken away from her at a very tender age and can never have the same privilege of again being with nor even talk with her mom again.

“I hope that everybody who loses somebody in their lives gets the justice they deserve and not have to wait for it for sixteen years like we had to,” Lexy disclosed.

At present, there is a Go Fund Me account to help defray legal fees that will be incurred in their efforts for Rebeny Grageda Vergara to get the justice she deserves. Those willing to pitch even a small amount may go