Pinoy found dead in Mississippi River, family wants answers

Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America

Posted at Aug 28 2019 05:55 PM

DALY CITY, California – More than two weeks have passed since 28-year old Filipino Ronald Ponce’s remains were pulled from the Mississippi River near Tom Lee Park, but his San Francisco Bay Area-based parents Rose and Randy said they still have no idea what happened to their son.

"We've gone back and forth to Mississippi, trying to get answers from the police. But no one's giving us definite answers," said Rose, who spoke exclusively to ABS-CBN News.

According to Rose, what they got from authorities was a preview of the surveillance camera footage showing Ronald walking along the Mississippi River past 5 a.m. on July 31.

She said Ronald kept looking over his shoulder and even turned around at one point. She stressed that the footage never actually showed Ronald jumping into the river.

However, around 3 a.m., before Ronald was last seen, Rose said she and her husband got a text message from their son who asked for forgiveness for what he was about to do: jumping into the water.

Rose said they were not able to read the text message until later that morning and immediately reached out to Ronald’s ex-girlfriend, Rachel Daniel, who reportedly got a farewell note from Ronald as well.

According to Rose, Ronald and Rachel had recently broken up and her son suspected that she was cheating on him.

Despite the note, Rose does not believe Ronald would actually end his own life. She said Ronald was ready to come back to the Bay Area to start fresh.

It was not until August 12 when Ronald's body was found floating on the river and it would take another week until he was identified by authorities, who also found his car parked close to where he was last seen.

Detectives from the Memphis Police Department (MPD) who are handling the case told the media that they continue to investigate the cause of death and circumstances around it.

But according to Ronald’s family, they have been left in the dark by authorities. They said they were neither given a copy of the police report nor were they shown preliminary autopsy findings. They said they were prohibited from seeing Ronald’s body.

Instead, Rose said they were advised to have Ronald’s body cremated, which is scheduled anytime now. They fear that once Ronald’s body is cremated, any evidence that would prove he didn’t commit suicide would be destroyed.

ABS-CBN News is still trying to reach out to the ex-girlfriend for comment, as well detectives from the MPD on the progress of their investigation.

"We need definite answers. Otherwise, there will never be closure for us," said Rose.

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