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Autopsy report finds no foul play in Rod Strunk death

October 19, 2007 3:59pm
California police investigators found no trace of foul play in the death last July of Roger Strunk, whom Philippine authorities linked to the murder of his actress-wife Nida Blanca in 2001.

Q-11 television reported Friday that Strunk sustained head injuries mainly over his fall from the second floor of the Tracy Inn in Tracy, California.

The head injuries caused his brain to hemorrhage, the autopsy report said. It added the impact also fractured Strunk's chest.

Strunk fell 20 feet to his death from the hotel balcony, after eluding Philippine authorities for more than five years for the murder of Blanca.

Police initially suspected the 68-year-old to have committed suicide.

Strunk had a brief singing career in the late 1950s and early 1960s as Rod Lauren, and was an artist and actor who more recently worked as a camera operator for the city of Tracy's public-access station, Channel 26.

He returned to the US in 2002, shortly after being linked to the murder of wife Nida Blanca. Blanca, Dorothy Jones in real life, was found inside her Nissan Sentra at the Atlanta Centre on Nov. 7, 2001.

Her body bore injuries indicating she was brutally stabbed and beaten up.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) charged Strunk as the mastermind for Blanca's murder in July 2002, but Strunk managed to leave for the US as early as five months earlier, saying he wanted to tend to his then ailing mother.

Strunk lived in the Philippines for more than 20 years beginning in 1979, when he married Blanca, one of the best-known movie and television actresses in the Philippines, in 1980.

But the NBI investigation of Blanca's death portrayed Strunk as a freeloader who ordered Blanca killed after she threatened to disinherit him.

Despite the NBI findings and the charges against Strunk, repeated attempts to have Strunk extradited to the Philippines had failed.

In May 2003, federal agents acting on an extradition request from the Philippine government arrested Strunk at his home and placed him at the Sacramento County Jail pending an extradition hearing.

At the hearing, held Oct. 17, 2003, in the federal courthouse in Sacramento, Strunk's lawyer Jeffrey Kravitz pointed out that the person who fingered Strunk as hiring the killer recanted his testimony a short time later in an open hearing.

When Philippine prosecutors failed to provide additional evidence contradicting the recantation, US Magistrate Gregory Hollows denied extradition in November 2003 and ordered Strunk's release from jail.

After his release, Strunk returned to Tracy and held a press conference in Good Shepherd Church at Parker and Eaton avenues, where he had become a member. - GMANews.TV
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