‘She didn’t deserve it’: Community left in shock after 81-year-old allegedly kills estranged wife

“How she lived is such a stark contrast to how she died," the victim's long-time friends say.
Published: Oct. 9, 2022 at 2:02 PM EDT
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HONOLULU (KHNL/KMGB/Gray News) - An 81-year-old man in Hawaii was arrested for allegedly murdering his estranged wife at an apartment, according to police.

The Honolulu Police Department said Rogelio Canilao has been charged with second-degree murder. His bail is set at $1 million.

Police said Canilao confessed to killing the 76-year-old woman on Thursday when he called 911 around 11:45 p.m. on Thursday.

Upon arrival, officers said they found a woman with fatal injuries at her apartment. Canilao was taken into custody.

KHNL/KMGB reported that longtime friends identified the victim as Teresita Canilao. In a statement, the Philippine Consulate of Honolulu confirmed she was one of their employees, a “longtime local hire.”

State Sen. Bennette Misalucha said she knew Teresita Canilao for more than 35 years.

“She was the secretary to the consul general, and consul generals came and went,” Misalucha said. “But Tessie was this bastion of stability there.”

One of those consuls was Paul Cortes, who served in Hawaii from 2006 to 2013.

“She’d tell you everything about the history and how things could be harnessed to make the Filipino community and the consulate work even more closer together,” he said.

Misalucha said Teresita Canilao shunned the limelight.

“She was one of those who quietly worked in the background,” Misalucha said. “And so, how she lived is such a stark contrast to how she died.”

Fred Paulo, a neighbor and friend of the victim, said he was shocked to learn what happened.

“I didn’t hear anything,” he said. “There were no strange noises last night.”

Also shocked by Teresita Canilao’s death is the local Filipino community, including her friend Amelia Cabatu.

“For a tragedy of this sort is so unbecoming of a woman not deserving of what happened to her,” Cabatu said.

Misalucha said she prefers to remember Teresita Canilao as she lived and not as she died.

“She did not deserve this,” Misalucha said.

The tragedy is reverberating around the Philippine diplomatic community worldwide.

“It was a shock, really,” Cortes said. “And everybody started exchanging messages with everybody who knew. Some people from Hawaii, some of the diplomats are in Singapore now, some are in Manila, some are elsewhere, some are retired.”

Friends said they have no idea how this could have happened.

“She never discussed her personal life with the community, and sometimes it’s good not to,” Cabatu said. “But it’s also not good to not share what’s troubling you.”

The consulate is working with authorities as the investigation continues but had said in a statement, “Out of deference to the family, the consulate refrains from making further comment.”