1981 Shooting of Bataan Death March Survivor will be Re-Examined

Wess Haubrich

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Heren CabacarVirginian-Pilot

Heren Cabacar survived the Bataan Death March and a Korean POW Camp

It has been four decades since Bataan Death March and Korean POW Camp survivor Heren Cabacar walked home from a late bingo session at Portsmouth’s Naval Yard Drydock Club and was brutally gunned down along the median of Frederick Boulevard. It has been four decades since police notified Cabacar’s family of his murder in the early morning twilight on December 2, 1981.

The family patriarch’s killing over a few dollars he had on him kicked off four decades of heartbreak; four decades of pain; four decades of unanswered questions; four decades of justice denied for his family; and four decades since they were forced into that fraternity of pain that is family members of murder victims whose cases have gone cold.

Cabacar was 65-years-old when he was murdered. His wife did not want him to play bingo that Wednesday night. She reminded him that he had just played that past Sunday and won a $334 jackpot. He ultimately got his way using a weapon he often gleefully wielded with her: his charm and charisma.

“Honey-coo,” he said with his characteristic grin, “I’ve got to go. I’ve got a lucky streak going and I can’t stop now.” He was ultimately dropped off at the Club by a family member – 15 bucks in his pocket to keep chasing that lucky streak.

Play ended around 11:15 that night. Cabacar left the club and chatted with the guard at the security gate before heading across the street to use a pay phone.

It is that last part which his family cannot understand. Their phone did not ring that night. Who had he called?

As he got further along his route home – circuitous and winding through a bad part of town – he stopped for a drink at the George Washington Tavern.

It was around 1:45 AM when police got a call about a man lying in the median on Frederick Boulevard. It was Cabacar.

He was brutally beaten and shot three times with a small calibre handgun. His pockets had been rifled through and his wallet was gone.

Many in the Portsmouth Police believe Cabacar’s murder was a random robbery gone horribly bad. Nevertheless, if you know anything about the murder please call the Portsmouth Police at (757) 393-5300.

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Former editor, now dogged-maverick journalist and researcher covering the crime beat. I examine the weird, absurd, and downright infamous in American crime both here and at Real Monsters podcast. Contact: wess@realmonsters.live

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