The backstory: Using her business mindset, probinsyana Lucila Lalu slowly emerged from being a simple waitress to a bona fide entrepreneurial success. By 1967, she already owned two establishments: Pagoda Soda Fountain, a restaurant-cum-cocktail lounge in Rizal Avenue, and Lucy’s House of Beauty, a beauty parlor on Mayhaligue St., Sta. Cruz.
Life seemed so sweet for Lucila until things took an ugly turn. On May 28, 1967, the whole nation was shocked as the first case of a “chop chop” lady emerged in newspaper headlines.
Several body parts which later identified to be those of the 29-year old Lucila were found scattered in different parts of Manila. Her legs, chopped into four pieces, were found wrapped in a newspaper and stuffed in a garbage can not far from Lucila’s cocktail lounge. Later on, her headless body was discovered on a vacant lot along EDSA.
Sadly, the severed head of Lucila, who was also one-month pregnant at the time of the murder, has never been discovered.
‘Clueless’ factor: Four men, all of whom were romantically linked to Lucila, were considered suspects for the murder. First on the list was 19-year old Florante Relos who worked as a waiter for Lucila’s cocktail lounge.
The second was patrolman Aniano Vera who was Lucila’s common-law husband at that time. However, both Relos and Vera were cleared from charges due to lack of strong pieces of evidence to prove them guilty.
Another two suspects emerged in the following months including an unidentified printing firm executive and a 28-year old dental student Jose Luis Santiano who many believed was just a fall guy.
After four decades of searching, Lucila Lalu’s murder case remains unclosed.