Serial Killer Case Still a Mystery
(KHNL) - The Honolulu Advertiser marks 150 years of bringing news to island residents. This week, we're looking back at some of the big stories our news partner has covered.
Back in the 1980s, a series of murders captured headlines. Five women were dead. Their killer was on the loose.
The bodies were all found near water. Some of the victims were raped. The Advertiser was there to cover it all.
When you think of Hawaii, you often think of sun and surf. But all that changed in May 1985, when the body of a 25-year-old woman was found at Keehi Lagoon.
The murder of Vicki Gail Purdy was just the beginning.
"First and foremost in an officer's mind, or investigator's mind, is that we don't want anybody else to get hurt," retired Maj. Louis Souza, Honolulu Police Department, said on October 11, 2002.
Over the next 12 months, Honolulu police would find four more bodies. The victims were 17-year-old Regina Sakamoto, 21-year-old Denise Hughes, 25-year-old Louise Medeiros and 36-year-old Linda Pesce.
"We had to go back and look at the files, first of all, if there was some connection between the victims," Souza said. "And there wasn't."
But there were similarities between the murders. Investigators believed they were looking for a serial killer.
The Honolulu Advertiser stayed on top of the story.
"Investigators, their pride is to try to solve it as quickly as they can," Souza said.
Police did arrest a suspect. But he was never charged, and later died.
The cases remain open.
"Just a simple arrest was satisfaction," Souza said. "But it was still frustrating that the state didn't feel that they had enough to prosecute him."