Police Officer Gavin Hormillosa, a Filipino American who has been serving the NYPD for 16 and a half years, was honored for “solving a cold case while on vacation in the Philippines.”
In an exclusive interview with, Hormillosa narrated his chilling encounter with Miguel Abarentos, the Filipino caregiver who fled to the Philippines after allegedly murdering his 87-year-old employer.
“In December 2012, a murder occurred in the 17th precinct, where the main suspect, an employee of the victim, fled to the Philippines,” recalled Hormillosa. “My supervisors, knowing that I frequent the Philippines to visit my parents, suggested that I be involved in the investigation.”
In January 2013, Hormillosa was certified by the NYPD as a translator. That year, the NYPD and the Manhattan district attorney’s office worked to get federal and international arrest warrants for Abarentos.
For his part, Hormillosa asked the Philippine National Police to monitor the suspect’s travel movements, in case he leaves the Philippines on another overseas employment contract.
When Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck in November 2013, however, Abarentos was given up for dead. “But this did not make sense to me since the typhoon did not heavily strike the area which he was last known to have lived, which is Paniqui in Tarlac,” Hormillosa said.
Returning to the Philippines in 2014, he looked into the list of known persons killed or missing as a result of Typhoon Haiyan and did not find Abarentos’ name. Still, the case stalled in the court system for the next three years because there was no proof of life.
In January of last year, out of pure curiosity, Hormillosa searched Abarentos’ name on Facebook. As it turned out, the 29-year-old suspect was active on social media. Through public pictures and posts of the suspect’s friends and family, Hormillosa was able to track Abarentos down to Makati City, where the suspect was working for a construction company. After informing the lead detective of the discovery, the case began to move forward again.
When Hormillosa traveled back to the Philippines last April for a family occasion, he stayed at a hotel in Makati that faced a construction site. It happened to be Abarentos’ workplace.
“While waiting for my family members to arrive and my hotel room to be cleaned, I decided to ask a security guard some questions about the new Rockwell Center that was going up when I spotted a possible suspect walking across the street,” Hormillosa said. Knowing that he had no jurisdiction in the Philippines, he made no further move.
Upon returning to New York in May, he confirmed Abarentos’ location to NYPD detectives. On June 21, 2016, nearly four years after the murder, members of the National Bureau of Investigation in the Philippines captured Abarentos at the construction site. On Nov. 18, 2016, he was extradited to New York where he is on trial for second-degree murder.
According to news reports on the case, Thawerdas Sadhwani was killed in his Murray Hill home, where then 25-year-old Abarentos occasionally helped the elderly victim. Daily News described Sadhwani as “brutally beaten” and had “numerous lacerations to his face” and “dentures broken” from being “smashed over the head” with a lamp. There are footages of Abarentos entering and exiting the building on the day of the murder, according to prosecutors.
Hormillosa said his advice to budding policemen is to do the job correctly and to the best of their abilities, but to also find time to relax. “Most of all, this is just a job… they (the public) will not remember you for the millions of things you do right every day, but they will remember the one bad thing or mistake you do,” he told INQUIRER.net.
“But nothing is more satisfying than catching a criminal after the commission of a crime. Things like that is what makes it worth it,” Hormillosa said.(E. Lugay, inq)