The Filipina allegedly murdered by her live-in partner, who strangled her using her own hair and belt, may have been caught in a physically abusive relationship, police and people who knew her told XPRESS.
The victim, Emma Angos Cambalon, 35, from Malita, Davao Del Sur, Philippines, had bruises on the face and neck when police found her body in Al Twar 1 on March 26.
Police arrested E.G., a 40-year-old Filipino bus driver, the victim's boyfriend, on April 15 in connection with the crime and has been charged with premeditated murder.
Cambalon, a mother of four, and E.G., who is also married in the Philippines, had been living together in Dubai for three years.
Before E.G.'s arrest, a picture of Cambalon's bloated face published in the papers on March 30 drew no response. This led police to believe she was an illegal resident, which triggered a massive operation that led to the arrest of 421 overstaying expatriates in Dubai.
Lt Col Ahmad Humaid Al Merri, Director of the Criminal Investigations Section of Dubai Police, said a Filipina overstayer taken by police during the sweep knew the victim and gave police the phone number of the victim's eldest daughter in the Philippines.
"I wished we were able to stop the crime in the first place and save the woman's life and not just solve a mystery of an unidentified body. We could have stopped the crime had her sponsor told authorities that she had absconded," he said.
The daughter gave police her mother's phone number and address in Deira near Al Hamriya. "We put her house under surveillance for a day before the suspect showed up," he said. "He was trying to get rid of her clothes, pictures or any trace of her."
People who knew the couple said their arguments often turned physical. They said she did odd jobs working as part-time hotel staff, but declined to give details.
Lt Col Al Merri said their probe revealed that an argument between the suspect and the victim turned physical on March 26 over an accommodation issue. The suspect told police that Cambalon found their place in Al Hamriya "inappropriate", but the argument heated up and he assaulted her inside his car. He left briefly to cool down.
"When he returned to the car," Al Merri said, "she began complaining about what he had done to her."
E.G. told police Cambalon threw sand at his face, which is when he strangled her using her hair and belt. Cambalon's 17-year-old son Jade, an economics freshman at University of San Carlos in Cebu City, said her mother had not come home in the last six years.
"We just want to see her body home for the last time and give her a proper burial," Jade told XPRESS.