By Nancy I. Maanao
The attorney general is charging John Richard Bass III with the murder of Virginia Laguana, and the assault of her three daughters, who all witnessed their mother's brutal stabbing death. One of them, age 19, was stabbed as she tried to protect her mother.
The magistrates report, which is released following the acceptance of charges in court by a magistrate judge, provides a narrative of the murder. This narrative provides to the judge the probable cause needed to move the crimes toward a jury trial.
In it, prosecutor Jeremiah Luther described what happened Sunday afternoon at the Hotel Mai'ana in Tamuning: "The officers entered and found Virginia Rose Peredo Laguna (victim) laying on her back with her head cradled in the arms of her daughter, J.V. (dob: 9-19-01). Virginia was drenched in blood and covered in towels, also saturated in blood."
"When the officers inspected Virginia, they found multiple, deep stab wounds all over her body. An officer helped J.V. up from the floor and discovered that she had two serious wounds. A laceration to the inner part of her left thigh, by her knee, continuously bled. While pressure was applied to J.V.'s injuries, officers turned their attention to Virginia. She did not have a pulse. One officer applied pressure to the stab wounds and another performed chest compressions. An officer reported that there were too many stab wounds and that whenever a chest compression was performed, blood would pour out of the wounds that did not receive direct pressure. Virginia was transported to Guam Memorial Hospital and pronounced dead shortly after arrival. An officer was allowed to view the body and he observed lacerations and stab wounds at the following locations: center of the chest, right breast (three wounds), right side of the abdomen, left upper thigh, right elbow, right wrist, left upper arm. left arm (below the elbow), right side of the left hand, and left back hand by the wrist."
"J.V. sustained lacerations to the inner thigh area of her left leg and the rear side of her right arm. She was interviewed at GRMC where she was transported to receive emergency medical care. She told the officer that she was in her bedroom with her two sisters: J.V.2 (herein the initials "J.V.2" will be used to differentiate between sisters that have the same initials), S.L. (witness), and C.S. (witness). Around 2:00 pm, of that same day, J.V. heard Virginia screaming and all four women ran into the living room. J.V. saw BASS stabbing Virginia while standing over her. J.V. and the other women attempted to pull BASS off of Virginia. They were initially successful but BASS began stabbing Virginia again. BASS dropped the knife and ran out of the residential unit. J.V. told officers that Virginia wasn't talking and had a hard time breathing.
"J.V.2 was interviewed. She told the interviewing officer that she ran into the living area with her sisters and saw BASS on top of Virginia, stabbing her. She observed C.S. punching BASS. J.V.2 told officers that she grabbed a picture frame and began hitting BASS. J.V.2 reported that when J.V. attempted to defend their mother, BASS began attacking J.V. She added that BASS told the group not to call the cops before running out of the residence.
"C.S. was interviewed and corroborated the accounts of J.V. and J.V.2. C.S. told the interviewing officer that she saw BASS over Virginia, stabbing her. C.S. told police that she observed BASS attack J.V. after J.V. tried to pull BASS off of Virginia. Before running out of the residence, BASS told the group, "I swear if you call the cops."
"A chef's knife with a bladed tip that appeared bent, was found in the area where Virginia's body was first observed by the responding officers. The knife was covered in suspected blood"
Police were aware of Bass's violent history
Mr. Bass is no stranger to the criminal justice system. In 2017 he was arrested for driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident, and assaulting the police officer who arrested him. That year he was offered a plea bargain; he pled guilty to the DWI charge, and the assault charge was dropped. The terms of that plea agreement, which is not readily available, were met this past April.
According to Ms. Laguana's sister, Maelene Peredo (in a Facebook post Monday), the murdered woman cried out for help to Guam's justice system several times, and was failed.
"My baby sister had been trying to leave him.... reported him multiple times to the police for things he was doing," Ms. Peredo wrote. "Nothing was being done because we couldn't prove he slashed the tires... or he didn't say the word 'kill' even though ALL THE SIGNS pointed to this! NOTHING! And now my baby sister's life was taken."
Hours ago, following news of the arrest report offenses, Ms. Peredo began expressing her frustration about the justice system that failed her sister, writing to her against the agony of her absence from this world:
"I want people to understand how sad this system is," Ms. Peredo says. "I want people to know how poorly GPD handled your cries for help. They better investigate well and with eyes wide open, because he's a narcissistic animal that will lie through his teeth to save himself. That sucks because you aren't here to defend yourself! Fuck that monster! Do they know that the 'injured 19 year old' is one of your babies?! Do they know that she got hurt trying to stop this animal from hurting you any more than he already did? Do they know your babies and crispy had to try to fight this fucktard off of you?! We didn't just lose you. He took a lot away from your girls that day....and for the rest of their lives. It's NEVER going to be the same. EVER!"