Caregivers: Woman’s ‘horrible’ murder outside Kapolei police station was preventable
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Those who took care of the woman brutally murdered outside the Kapolei police substation Tuesday night say her death was preventable and is a community tragedy.
Linda Johnson, 48, and the man suspected of killing her both suffered many years with mental illness.
Friends of Johnson say treatment had turned her life around and she will be remembered for her resiliency and “infectious personality.”
Caregiver David Fong said there was so much that stood out about Johnson.
Fluent in Japanese, the Mid-Pacific Institute graduate also grew up dancing hula and was an entertainer in Waikiki.
“She had a really infectious personality, too,” Fong said. “Complete strangers, she would be able to engage in remarkable conversation.”
But Johnson also had more than her fair share of struggles.
When Fong met her close to two decades ago she was homeless, suffering untreated mental illness and addiction. He was part of a team that helped her get off the street, into treatment and eventually stabilized. For nearly 15 years, she’d been living in various care homes.
“Two weeks ago from today she decided she wanted to leave,” Fong said.
On Sunday, Johnson was arrested in Waikiki for being on the beach after hours. Fong says she was released from the Kapolei substation about 4:30 a.m. on Monday.
“A lieutenant from the police department had given me a call Monday late evening after 10 p.m. that was the first time I had been made aware Linda had been picked up,” Fong said.
He says the officer told him he was concerned about Johnson’s welfare.
But at that point no one knew where she was.
Fong says if he had been contacted while she was still in lock up he likely would have been able to get her into an emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation.
“It would have also given me the opportunity to inform them of what had most recently been going on about how she did have a care home to return to,” he said.
At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Johnson was beaten to death feet from the front steps of the Kapolei substation.
Police say the suspect, Michael Armstrong, had just been released from jail after allegedly punching a police officer the day before.
He was on conditional release from the State Hospital after years of his own mental health struggle.
Community psychiatrist Dr. Chad Koyanagi knew Johnson and called her death a tragedy.
“It was just one of the most horrible things I’ve ever heard of in my career,” he said.
Fong said when he found out he was in disbelief.
He says the system failed Johnson and the man who allegedly killed her. And he added that more needs to be done to address Hawaii’s mental health crisis.
“It’s something we need to discuss more,” said Fong. “And it’s something that our Representatives, we could help them better understand.”
Armstrong remains in custody, accused of second-degree murder. He has not been charged.
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