Man suspected of murdering visiting professor 14 years ago - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Man suspected of murdering visiting professor 14 years ago arrested

Jason Lee McCormick Jason Lee McCormick
Robert Henderson Robert Henderson
Michael Henderson in 1996 Michael Henderson in 1996
Vickie Kapp Vickie Kapp

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Oahu grand jury on Thursday returned a murder indictment against a homeless man suspected of killing a tourist in Waikiki 14 years ago. Circuit Judge Richard Perkins set bail for Jason Lee McCormick, 36, at $500,000.

Late Thursday, police arrested McCormick on the grand jury warrant.

The case started moving forward when Honolulu police received new information about the killing. They worked with investigators from the Cold Case Unit at the state Attorney General's office to collect enough evidence for the indictment.

Dr. Robert Henderson was often seen wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates cap. In 1996, his brother, Michael, sat next to that cap and pleaded for the public's help in finding his killer.

"I mean, we're having to stretch to come up with anybody that would want to hurt him," Michael Henderson, victim's brother, said at the time.

"In State versus Jason Lee McCormick, we're asking that bail in the amount $500,000 be confirmed," Vickie Kapp, deputy prosecutor, said.

The decomposing body of Robert Henderson, 51, was found in a room at the Ilikai Hotel in July 1996. The nude body reportedly had a message written on it, accusing him of being a child molester.

"It was devastating and my best guess is that was all done just to divert the attention of the police away from the true killer," Michael Henderson said back in 1996.

The city medical examiner's office says the victim died from "asphyxia due to assault by hanging or strangulation."

Henderson was a University of Pittsburgh linguistics professor who was in Hawaii for a conference.

Prosecutors say McCormick confessed to police a few years back but, at the time, the confession wasn't enough. On Thursday, they explained to a judge why his bail should be set at $500,000.

"He is unemployed and has no local address," Kapp said. "He also has family in the mainland and that poses a possible flight risk because of that. Due to the severity of the offense, we're asking for this high bail."

The judge granted the bail request.

"Robert was a wonderful son and brother whose life, and death, have deeply impacted our lives," the victim's family said in a written statement Thursday. "We sincerely hope the remainder of this ordeal moves swiftly until his murderer is behind bars."

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