No signs of foul play seen

Monfore sis says autopsy left them with more unanswered questions

Autopsy results found no foul play in the deaths of Joan L. Taitano and ocean swimmer Monte Monfore, according to the Department of Public Safety yesterday.

In the Chalan Kanoa case, acting police spokesman Jason Tarkong also said yesterday that the death of 53-year-old Josephina Pineda is classified as a homicide due to the many injuries the victim sustained as a result of the attack.

Guam chief medical examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola conducted the autopsies on the bodies of Taitano, Monfore, and Pineda at the Commonwealth Health Center’s morgue last Saturday.

Tarkong said that Taitano’s fatal injuries were consistent with falling from a high point with sudden impact.

There was “no evidence of foul play involved,” he said.

In Monfore’s case, Tarkong said the autopsy results classified it as an accidental death.

He did not provide other details.

In his initial report, Tarkong identified Monfore as Thomas M. Montgomery, citing a police report from Rota DPS.

Monfore’s younger sister, Dana Monfore Lucas, told Saipan Tribune last night that her brother’s legal name was Montgomery Thomas Monfore.

Tarkong later issued a statement clarifying that the victim’s last name was “Monfore, first name Montgomery.”

Taitano, 37, was found dead by search teams at the bottom of a 200-foot cliff near the radar building in Marpi last Tuesday morning, two days after she was reported missing. She was last seen alive last Oct. 26. Her car was found locked by the radar building last Monday, Oct. 30.

Monfore, 56, was found floating in the swimming hole at Pinatang Beach, Rota in the afternoon of Oct. 24. He was pronounced dead at the Rota Health Center.

Lucas told Saipan Tribune that she was taken aback when she learned from media that her brother’s death had been ruled accidental by the medical examiner.

Lucas said that Espinola and Rota police detective Shawn C. Taisacan have failed to respond to her and her father’s recent attempts to reach them both before and after the autopsy.

“It is troubling to hear the ruling without knowing what evidence was collected via the autopsy, and the investigation, that points to an accident, rather than foul play,” she said.

Lucas decries what she described as “a lack of transparency from the authorities all along.”

“This ruling, at this time, does not bring us closure, but leaves us with more unanswered questions about my brother’s death,” she said, adding that she has sought legal advice.

In Pineda’s case, she was allegedly stabbed by Alfonso Sebastian Parongan with a kitchen knife outside Parongan’s home along Texas Road, Chalan Kanoa, last Oct. 29.

Pineda’s husband, Antonio Barrit, 62, sustained several injuries after Parongan chased him and stabbed him. Parongan, who was arrested that same night, allegedly confessed to police that he stabbed the couple and that he was high on “ice” and heavily drunk that day.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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