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Police arrest alleged purse snatcher involved in crash that killed MPD secretary

Maui police said they have arrested a suspect involved in a purse-snatching that ended in a fatal car crash in Pukalani.
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 4:51 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 31, 2022 at 9:24 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui police said they have arrested a suspect involved in a purse-snatching that ended in a fatal car crash in Pukalani.

The woman that was killed in the crash was 55-year-old Terry Jones, who was a longtime Maui police department secretary.

Authorities said Robert Nelson was arrested after allegedly stealing Jones’ purse in February. Police said she crashed into a tree while attempting to pursue the suspect.

“Mr. Nelson confessed to his involvement with breaking into Ms. Terry Jones’ vehicle and the theft of her purse. He provided investigators with verifiable details of the break-in that tend to confirm his specific involvement in the crime,” said lead detective in the case Sgt. John Surina of MPD.

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Jones had been helping her daughter deliver newspapers in Upcountry Maui early in the morning when her purse was stolen.

“We are so proud and not for a moment did we ever doubt that we would get justice. There isn’t a big enough word to say how grateful we are,” said Jones’ daugher Stacy Yagi.

Investigators said after Jones’ crash they checked the area for surveillance video and evidence and came up with leads for possible suspects. They said technology and good police work helped them track Nelson down.

“At first we had little to go on, but I credit the tenacity and perseverance of our Crime Reduction Unit and Criminal Investigation Division and the awesome teamwork they displayed in pursuing and apprehending this individual,” said Assistant Chief Randy Esperanza.

Nelson is charged with multiple car break-ins and driving a stolen vehicle.

“I would like to echo Assistant Chief Esperanza and thank our incredible men and women of this department. I also want to thank the outstanding members of this community,” said Chief John Pelletier. “As I have said before, this is a partnership. We need to continue to be here for one another.”

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