‘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. 7, 2022 at 4:42 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 8, 2022 at 3:46 PM HST

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An 81-year-old man was arrested for allegedly murdering his estranged wife at an Ala Moana area apartment overnight, Honolulu police said.

HPD 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 on Sheridan Street. Canilao was taken into custody.

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 knew Teresita for more than 35 years.

“She was the secretary to the consul general, and consul generals came and went,” said Misalucha. “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.

“She shunned the limelight. She was one of those who quietly worked in the background,” said Misalucha. “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’s death is the local Filipino community.

“For a tragedy of this sort is so unbecoming of a woman not deserving of what happened to her,” said Teresita’s long-time friend Amelia Cabatu.

“Personally, I would rather remember her as she lived, not how she died,” said Misalucha. “She did not deserve this.”

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,” said Cabatu. “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.”