New leads, investigators in cold case double murder offer loved ones new hope

It’s been 43 years since a high-profile double murder in east Honolulu.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 4:48 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 17, 2023 at 6:40 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s been 43 years since a high-profile double murder in east Honolulu.

Rodney “Rocky” Padilla and Lawrence “Larry” Martens were murdered at Maunalua Bay Beach Park in September 1980.

New evidence and a new lead investigative agency is giving hope to the Padilla family.

“My mom is 88 years old,” said Joe Padilla, Rocky’s older brother.

He said his mom wants to know what happened to her youngest child before it’s too late.

Joe Padilla is a retired Denver police officer.

Joe Padilla and his brother Rocky.
Joe Padilla and his brother Rocky.(Padilla family)

He has never stopped pushing for answers from the Honolulu Police Department.

“I understand that whoever was involved may be dead. That’s, that’s just how it is. But the fact that we can resolve it is what’s important to me.”

In 2016, Padilla returned to Hawaii for a news conference where HPD announced that they had received tips on the case and that NCIS, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, was assisting.

NCIS was consulted because the victims were Marines.

Padilla told Hawaii News Now then that he was hopeful. But frustration set in when no progress was reported.

“I was told by HPD, that this would be a major investigation, and that they would work actively work it and that wasn’t the case,” said Padilla, who again got excited when HPD launched a cold case unit in 2018.

In 2021, Padilla received an email from the detective in the unit who said there were more than 250 cases and he was the only one assigned to the detail.

The detective said he would talk to his supervisors about having NCIS play a more active role.

That year, NCIS took over as the lead agency.

A spokesman for NCIS provided Hawaii News Now with a statement that said:

“Based on evidence that HPD recovered, which included writing in the sand nearby in Maunalua Beach Park, NCIS believes that a social gathering may have taken place that may have led to a potential altercation involving the victims. NCIS believes that witnesses may have been present at the time of their deaths.”

That’s more details than Padilla has been able to get in decades.

He does feel that NCIS is devoting resources to his brother’s case and hopes it’s enough.

“You know, I still have faith, I still have a lot of faith that it’s going to be solved.”

There are multiple rewards being offered for information to help solve the case. NCIS has a tip site along with Honolulu Crimestoppers.