Friends say woman fatally shot after turning down widower's advances

Dorothy Wheeler
Dorothy Wheeler

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Friends of an Oahu murder victim call it a tragic case of unrequited love. The suspected gunman, a 70-year-old man, remains in police custody awaiting charges.

Neighbors identify Sunday's shooting victim as Clare Silva, 54. A close friend says Silva survived multiple heart attacks and cancer, but couldn't survive the actions of an aggressive suitor.

Flowers are placed by the crime scene tape outside Clare Silva's apartment at Punchbowl Homes. Friends say the 54-year-old, who was less than five-feet tall, was a spark plug.

"Sometimes I'd say, 'Clare, come here,' and I'd just give her a hug," Dorothy Wheeler, victim's friend, said. "She'd come right underneath my chin, you know. (But) when you talked with her, she had a personality larger than life."

Police say Silva suffered two gunshot wounds to her abdomen Sunday, and that a fellow tenant, Melvin Yoshida, 70, confessed. Neighbors say the suspect's wife died about a year ago, and that since then, he had been pursuing Silva.

"I said, 'Clare, this is serious. This guy has strong feelings for you. He's in love with you and you've got to make it very clear to him what your intent is,'" Wheeler said.

She says Silva's intent was to be just friends.

"She didn't think that Mel was going to kill her," Wheeler said.

Police say the victim was on the phone with a family member on the mainland when the shooting happened. That family member reported hearing popping sounds before the line went dead.

"All I could think of was my poor little Clare," Wheeler said.

Residents of Punchbowl Homes, a public housing complex for senior citizens and disabled people, are still reeling from their association president's violent death.

"She had six heart attacks. At age 19, she had a complete hysterectomy. Then she had either breast cancer. I think it was, she said it was breast cancer and she survived that," Wheeler said. "She was just very precious."

Officers booked Yoshida on suspicion of murder and three firearms offenses. Again, he's awaiting charges.