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Heartbroken parents of murdered Jastine Valdez still leave a plate of dinner out for her every day

Her mother has also written a heartbreaking letter to her dead daughter

The heartbroken parents of murdered Jastine Valdez have revealed that they still leave a plate of dinner out for her every day.

Speaking exclusively to Dublin Live on the third anniversary of the 24-year-old’s murder, her parents Teresita and Danilo spoke of their ongoing heartache.

“We still give her a plate of food at every meal and prop up a pillow for her when we go to bed,” Teresita said.

Teresita has also written a heartbreaking letter for Jastine, which she shared with this paper three years on from when her daughter’s body was discovered.

“The trauma that we are trying to cope and overcome is still unbearable,” she writes. “There is no way we can forget what happened.”

Tragic Jastine was abducted by depraved killer Mark Hennessy (40) after she had gotten off a bus in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, at about 6.15pm on May 19, 2018

He killed Jastine shortly after and her body was found days later near Puck’s Castle Lane in Rathmichael, Co Dublin on May 21

Hennessy had been shot and killed by a garda in the Cherrywood Industrial Estate near Bray on May 20, after an officer believed he was stabbing Jastine in his car.

Her parents have never gotten an answer as to why Hennessy killed their daughter, who was a complete stranger to her.

And speaking about the pain of that loss, her father Danilo said he stares out the window every morning, hoping what happened was just a bad dream.

“I still cannot believe my daughter is no longer around to talk about our plans for the future,” he added.

Jastine’s parents moved back to Ireland after bringing her body to her native Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya, in the northern part of the Philippines.

They now have a new home and have started new jobs here — but they say the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions re-triggered much of their grief.

“We think about her even more because we cannot be with other people to distract ourselves from the pain,” her mother said.

And in her heartbreaking letter for Jastine, which she shares exclusively with this paper today, Teresita says she still cannot cope with the unbearable loss.

“It’s been three years since you passed away, Jastine Jeryl ‘Anak’ [child].

“There is no shortcut in getting over our grief of losing you. There is no magic cure to make all the heartache go away forever without you, Jeryl,” she writes.

“Many times it is so unbearable to cope. We are trying hard to get by, but it has become a ritual for me to break down and cry just to ease the heartache and the longing for you, my dear princess.”

She went on to speak about how everyday things remind her of her daughter: “Missing you has been part of our daily life.

“There are so many memories and things that remind me of you, and they hurt so much. We live our lives one day at a time.

“Only God knows how hurtful and painful it is for us to come to terms with what happened. My heart aches and longs for you, my dear child.

“May God’s grace and mercy give me courage to face and be at peace knowing that you are already in heaven above.”

And she added how she often asks herself ‘what if’ when thinking about her daughter’s stolen life.

“I will forever be missing you, Jeryl. I will forever be wanting your presence, and I can’t help but think ‘What if?’

“Perhaps the joy and contentment in life is only to have you back with me. But I know the Lord loves you more than I do.

“That’s the only reason I can think properly. So, Rest in Peace, my dear Child. We will always be loving you, forever be missing you, and keeping you in our heart that is broken in pieces.”

After an inquest at Dublin Coroner’s Court into Jastine’s death, the jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

Detective Superintendent Frank Keeneghan said gardai carried out extensive examinations of the phones and social media profiles of Ms Valdez and Hennessy.

No prior link between them was discovered.

The cause of death, according to deputy state pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan, was asphyxia through external pressure on the neck.

A very low level of cocaine was found in her system, which may have been ingested in the hours prior to her death.

Ms Valdez’s boyfriend Joseph Squire said that she never took drugs and ‘was way too innocent for anything like that’.

“The image of that beautiful young woman remains with us,” coroner Dr Myra Cullinane told the inquest.

“It is inconceivable how her parents can bear the loss of their only child.

“We’ve had a glimpse of the person that Jastine was and it is tragic that she’s been so cruelly taken in this way.”

06:00, 21 MAY 2021 Updated 07:35, 21 MAY 2021