CHICAGO (FAXX/JGLi) – The remains of a murdered Filipina immigrant initially reported missing more than ten years ago in West Virginia is going to be repatriated to her surviving family in Legazpi City in the Philippines, according to Consul & First Secretary Elmer G. Cato of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C.
The cremated remains of Karen Santillan Tait, a 23-year-old mother of one, is due to arrive in Manila this weekend.
Philippine Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. commended authorities of Waynesboro, West Virginia for solving the case and sending Santillan-Tait’s husband, Thomas Neal Tait, 52, to jail.
“If not for their efforts, our kababayan would most likely remain nameless and her killer would still be on the loose,” Ambassador Cuisia said as he cited in particular the efforts of Prosecuting Attorney James L. Camblos, III of the Office of the Commonwealth Attorney and case officer Corporal Alyssa Campbell of the Waynesboro Police Department.
“We thank them and the good people of Waynesboro for going out of their way to make sure that Karen can finally rest in peace with her loved ones in the Philippines,” Ambassador Cuisia said.
Authorities and citizens of Waynesboro came together to raise funds for the cost of cremation, repatriation, burial and other related expenses for the remains.
Consul General Ariel Penaranda of the Embassy has been in touch with Waynesboro authorities since last year after Santillan-Tait’s body was identified by the West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office, where the body was kept since 2002.
The break in the case came last year when Santillan-Tait’s husband could not account for her whereabouts while he was being investigated on unrelated charges.
DNA samples collected from Santillan-Tait’s relatives in the Philippines and Santillan-Tait’s daughter in the U.S. matched those of the remains of an unidentified Asian woman found at the Greenbrier State Forest in 2002.
Santillan-Tait’s husband later broke down and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is now serving a 30-year prison term in West Virginia.