A 32-year-old man is scheduled to go on trial here next month for a murder police said he cconfessed to after his victim's voice allegedly came back from the grave to name him as the killer.
Teresita Basa's nude body was found under a pile of smoldering clothing in her fashionable apartment on Feb. 2, 1977, a butcher knife stuck in her chest.
Police say they had no leads until six months later, when they intervieewed a doctor who claimed that his 38-year-old wife had gone into trances three times and, saying she was Basa and speaking in a strange voice, identified Allan Showery as the man who stabbed her and set her body on fire.
At a pretrial hearing in Circuit Court, Dr. Jose C. Chua Jr., a surgeon, quoted his wife's entranced voice as having said, "Doctor, I would like to ask for your help. The man who murdered me is still at large."
Chua and his wife, Remibias, are natives of the Philippines, as was the murdered woman. Remibias Chua and Basa, 48, worked together at Chicago's Edgewater Hospital, where Showery was a respiratory technician.
The doctor said that his wife, when entranced, spoke in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, with a strange Spanish-sounding accent.
"I was really surprised and scared when I asked her name and she answered, 'Ako 'y (I am) Teresita Basa.' But she told me I had nothing to be scared of. She was really pleading for me to help solve her murder," Chua testified.
The hearing was on a motion by William Swano, an assistant public defender representing Showery, to dismiss the murder charge on grounds that police had nothing to go on but Chua's bizarre story when they made the arrest.
Swano argued that Mrs. Chua faked the trances and that Showery's arrest on Aug. 11, 1977, was illegal because police lacked probable cause of his guilt.
"Never to my knowledge has a man been arrested because of a supernatural vision," Swano said. "Police have never before been informed of a criminal's name by a voice from the grave."
police homicide investigator Joseph Stachula acknowledge that the doctor's story was the only lead they had when they questioned Showery, but Stachula said that they rang Showery's doorbell without drawing guns and he voluntarily went to the police station without asking whether he was under arrest.
Prosecutor Thomas J. Organ contended that police would have been derelict to ignore the tip. "I'm sure none of us has ever heard a story as bizarre as this," he said, "but police could not ignore it."
Judge Frank W. Barbaro denied the defense motion to dismiss the murder charge, and set the trial for Oct. 2. "I see no reason to restrict the investigatory power of the police," the judge said. "Whether they believed the voices or not, they had to check it out."
Barbaro added that the evidence showed police had advised Showery of his rights before he confessed.
A spokesman for the prosecutor's office said it is unlikely that Remibias Chua will be called to testify at the trial, since the claims that she can recall nothing about what she said in her trances.
"It's not like we're going to cross-examine the voice or anything of that nature," the spokesman said. "We're really not interested in the supernatural aspect of this trial. The voice was an initial tip, but the evidence was developed independently."