Hawai'i County Police have arrested a man in connection with the death of beloved Big Island traveling musician whose remains were discovered in South Kohala in March.
Martin Frank Booth was indicted by a Kona Grand Jury earlier this week on one count of second-degree murder. Detectives arrested him at the Kona police station Thursday morning.
"He was in Kona at court, appearing for an unrelated incident, and was actually transported from the court to the Kona Police station where he was arrested on the warrant for the Grand Jury indictment," said Lt. Gerald Wike with the Hawai'i County Police Department's Criminal Investigations Section, Area II.
55-year-old Booth is accused of killing Robert Keawe Lopaka Ryder. The 37-year-old musician had been reported missing by his family in January -- after he hadn't been heard from since last Thanksgiving.
Sources say officers were led to human remains in early March by a man who confessed he was involved in Ryder's murder and could show them where the body was buried.
"Detectives located human remains on vacant land between Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway and Puako Beach Drive," said Lt. Wike.
Sources say the man who led officers to the crime scene claimed he was coerced into helping Booth corner Ryder, and witnessed Booth kill Ryder before he was forced to dispose of Ryder's body. Dental records confirm the remains were Ryder.
"An autopsy conducted on March 12 by the medical examiner determined that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and that the manner of death was homicide," Lt. Wike said.
It's unclear when Ryder was murdered.
Booth has been in custody at Hawai'i Community Correctional Center on a $266,000 bond since he was arrested in January on 24 charges, including assault and meth trafficking. Sources say Booth is also being looked at for a string of unsolved armed robberies in West Hawai'i right around the time Ryder disappeared.
The Hawai'i County Prosecutors office confirms Booth will be in court Friday morning for his arraignment.