x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Police conduct tests in case of murdered Dubai businesswoman

While officers continue their investigation, the family waits to take her body home and her fellow Filipinos prepare a eulogy mass.

The body of Lorna Lim Varona, a 51-year-old Filipina, was found on August 31, nearly a week after she was reported missing.
The body of Lorna Lim Varona, a 51-year-old Filipina, was found on August 31, nearly a week after she was reported missing.

The family of a murdered Dubai businesswoman is ready to take her body home, but because it is a murder the matter is beyond their control.

On Friday, nearly a week after the 51-year-old mother of four was reported missing from her home in Dubai, Sharjah Police found her body stuffed in a bag in the boot of her car, a green Jaguar S-Type, in Sharjah's Industrial Area 11.

She had been stabbed at least six times.

A Filipino man in his fifties, a close friend of the family who had borrowed Dh250,000 from Mrs Varona, was arrested the next day in Dubai and has confessed to the murder.

Mrs Varona's husband, Pablo, said the family is waiting for officers to conclude their investigation before taking his wife's body home to Manila.

"We don't want her body to remain here for a long time but we've been told it would take some time because it's a murder case," Mr Varona said.

"Sharjah CID are still doing some tests to prove where it exactly took place and if there were accomplices. We've also been told that investigations in Dubai are expected to take about two weeks."

Police at Rashidiya police station, where Mr Varona filed a missing persons report, advised him to follow up the case with the Dubai Public Prosecution.

However, a spokesman for Sharjah Police said since the crime was committed in the emirate, officers and prosecutors from Sharjah will be handling the case. The suspect is in custody in Sharjah.

Mr Varona's son, Joseph Louis, 26, was to arrive last night from Manila to join his sisters and father in Dubai. The other sibling, Joseph Luke, 27, is handling funeral arrangements in the Philippines.

Jun Tupas, a quality assurance manager at McDermott Middle East in Dubai and a colleague of Mr Varona's, said the Filipino community was arranging an eulogy mass for Mrs Varona at 11am on Saturday at St Mary's Catholic Church in Oud Metha Road, Dubai.

The Varonas met in 1980 and married a year later. Mrs Varona owned several businesses, including Seaworld Tourism, a typing office, a general trading company and Capricorn Star Building Cleaning and Technical Services.

Yesterday, Mr Varona was busy with the paperwork involved in his wife's repatriation.

He visited the Philippine Overseas Labour Office to check the documents required to claim benefits from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, or Owwa.

Every Filipino who leaves the country to work abroad pays a US$25 Owwa fee.

Renewed every two years, the fee goes toward Owwa's emergency repatriation fund as well as giving workers and their dependents access to health care and benefits in case of disability or death.

Delmer Cruz, the labour attache in Dubai, confirmed that Mrs Varona's Owwa membership was active at the time of her death.

Her family will be entitled to death and funeral benefits of 220,000 Philippine pesos (Dh19,300).

rruiz@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Yasin Kakande and Salam Al Amir