When one thinks about serial killers, one tends to consider darkness. The gaslit and rain-swept streets of Whitechapel in 1888, the grey days of Ted Bundy’s Pacific Northwest, or the the economic gloom of Chicago through the reign of H.H. Holmes all come to thoughts.

Hawaii, America’s island paradise, is the other of dreary. Honolulu is a Pacific metropolis that hosts thousands and thousands of vacationers yearly, a majority of whom need to spend lazy days beneath the limitless sunshine. These vacationers don’t take into consideration hazard or human predators whereas they sip combined drinks or surf the waves on Waikiki Seashore.

Between 1985 and 1986, nevertheless, true darkness reached Honolulu. Throughout these years, Hawaii’s first identified serial killer, the Honolulu Strangler, took 5 lives. The case stays unsolved to today and will be the blackest mark in Honolulu’s historical past.

10 The Homicide Of Vicki Gail Purdy

The first recorded sufferer of the Honolulu Strangler (also referred to as the Honolulu Rapist) was 25-year-old Vicki Gail Purdy. By all accounts, Purdy was a beautiful blond who lived in Miliani along with her husband, Gary Purdy. Gary was a stationed in Hawaii as a helicopter pilot for the US Military. As for Vicki, she labored on the Wahiawa Video Rental retailer. Though small and petite, Gary and Vicki’s pals all advised police that Vicki packed a imply punch.

Vicki got here from North Carolina and was very headstrong. Honolulu detectives found that Vicki was identified to go to nightclubs along with her pals with out the corporate of Gary. On the night time of her homicide (a Wednesday), Gary anticipated his spouse to return residence earlier than 9:00 PM after dancing at a nightclub in Waikiki. When Vicki failed to return residence that night time, Gary relentlessly paged his spouse. The subsequent day, Gary discovered Vicki’s automotive within the car parking zone of the Shorebird Lodge. A neighborhood cab driver advised police that he had dropped Vicki off on the resort someday round midnight.[1]

Vicki’s physique was discovered on the morning of Could 30, 1985. The corpse was positioned on an embankment close to the Keehi Lagoon. Vicki’s killer had sure her arms behind her again, raped her, after which strangled her.

9 Video Retailer Connection?

One of many first angles pursued by investigators in regards to the homicide of Vicki Gail Purdy was the Wahiawa Video Rental retailer. Gary Purdy had lengthy objected to his spouse’s workplace, for the video retailer was identified to promote pornographic movies. Given the sexual nature of the crime, Honolulu detectives surmised that perhaps a porn-obsessed buyer of Wahiawa Video Rental had stalked and attacked Vicki.

It was simple that Wahiawa Video Rental had a nasty fame. The retailer had already seen lethal violence previously. In December 1984, two ladies—a employee and the co-owner of the shop—had been stabbed to loss of life.[2] That grotesque case, nevertheless, was by no means tied to the homicide of Vicki Purdy.

8 The Homicide Of Regina Sakamoto

The Honolulu Strangler’s subsequent sufferer was a highschool scholar, 17-year-old Regina Sakamoto. Sakamoto was final heard from on January 14, 1986, at about 7:15 AM. Throughout a quick telephone conservation along with her boyfriend, Regina stated that she can be late and wouldn’t catch her common bus.

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Regina can be thought of lacking for a month. Then, in February 1986, Regina’s corpse was discovered close to Keehi Lagoon. Investigators found that Regina had been raped and strangled identical to Vicki Purdy. Additionally like Purdy, Regina’s killer had sure her arms behind her again.

Regina was small and petite like Vicki, though the 150-centimeter (4’11”) and 48-kilogram (105 lb) Regina was noticeably shorter and thinner than Vicki. Regina was additionally a Hawaii transplant who had been born in Kansas. Regina’s Japanese surname got here from her stepfather, navy serviceman Maurice Sakamoto.[3] By all accounts, Regina was a shy and quiet lady who deliberate on attending college in Hawaii within the fall.

7 A Serial Killer On Their Palms

The discovery of Regina Sakamoto’s corpse satisfied murder detectives in Honolulu that their metropolis was the house of an unidentified serial killer. Initially, the killer’s first two victims had each been raped and strangled. Second, the killer had sure the arms of each Purdy and Sakamoto, and in each situations, the ladies had died with their arms secured behind their backs.

There was additionally the significance of the Keehi Lagoon. Oahu residents and vacationers alike know the lagoon as a part of an city seaside park.[4] The lagoon has quick access to the Pacific Ocean and is dotted right here and there with tiny islands. This was the killer’s most popular dumping floor, and within the case of Honolulu within the Nineteen Eighties, the Keehi Lagoon Park was about as secluded because it received.

6 The Homicide Of Denise Hughes

Two weeks after Regina Sakamoto disappeared, 21-year-old Denise Hughes, a local of Washington state, failed to point out up for work at her job as a secretary for a phone firm. Like Regina, Denise used Honolulu’s bus system to get round, and it’s possible that Denise met her killer on a kind of buses.[5]

Three fishermen finally discovered Hughes’s corpse on February 1, 1986. Reasonably than the Keehi Lagoon, Hughes’s killer had left her physique close to the Moanalua Stream. This was not the one change to the killer’s modus operandi: The three younger fisherman initially discovered Hughes’s physique wrapped in a blue tarp. Though Hughes’s corpse was badly decomposed by the point it was discovered, murder investigators shortly discerned the truth that her arms had been sure previous to loss of life and that she had been strangled.

5 A Activity Drive is Fashioned

Following the invention of Hughes’s corpse, the Honolulu Police Division, then headed by Main Chester Hughes (no relation to Denise Hughes), determined to type a serial killer activity drive beneath the umbrella of the division’s Felony Investigative Division.

The activity drive was instantly pitted towards huge odds. By 1986, Oahu was the middle of a telecommunications increase that had attracted hundreds of migrant employees. Hawaii was additionally residence to an enormous navy inhabitants, with Military, Navy, and Marine Corps installations throughout. Additionally, between 1985 and 1986, 10.5 million folks visited Hawaii as vacationers.[6] The killer may have come from any one among these populations.

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The HPD did handle to create a profile of the Honolulu Strangler throughout this time. In keeping with the profile, the killer was an opportunist who attacked ladies who frequented weak spots like bus stops. The killer didn’t stalk his victims earlier than killing them, and given the placement of the dumping websites, investigators theorized that he lived someplace close to Waipahu or Sand Island.

4 The Homicide Of Louise Medeiros

Louise Medeiros was simply 25 when she was murdered by the Honolulu Strangler. On March 26, 1986, Medeiros boarded a red-eye flight to Oahu. From there, Medeiros advised her household that she deliberate to take a bus to Waipahu so as meet them following the tragic loss of life of their mom. Medeiros was final seen alive leaving the aircraft after it landed in Honolulu.[7]

Medeiros’s physique was discovered by building employees on April 2 close to the Waikele Stream. Like the opposite 4 victims, Medeiros was discovered partially clothed. (The killer at all times eliminated the pants and undergarments and left his victims nude from the waist down.) She had additionally had her arms tied behind her again. Medeiros had been sexually assaulted and strangled.

With a purpose to catch the killer, the HPD started sending their feminine officers undercover to the Honolulu Worldwide Airport and to Keehi Lagoon. By now, it was clear that the killer favored out-of-town victims or these with restricted connections to Hawaii.

3 The Homicide Of Linda Pesce


Regina Sakamoto was the Honolulu Strangler’s youngest sufferer. The killer’s final identified sufferer, Linda Pesce, was his oldest. Pesce died on the age of 36. The final individual to see Pesce alive was her roommate, who advised police that Pesce had left residence on the morning of April 29, 1986. The subsequent morning, this roommate was advised that Pesce had failed to point out for work and that her automotive had been discovered parked close to a viaduct on Route 92-Interstate H-1.[8] It was at this level that Pesce was reported lacking.

The case took an odd twist when an unidentified white male, aged 43, advised police {that a} psychic (additionally unnamed) had knowledgeable him that Pesce’s physique was positioned on Sand Island. On Could 3, the person took investigators to 1 spot on the island. Pesce’s physique was not there, nevertheless it was later uncovered elsewhere on Sand Island. Pesce had been strangled, and police discovered her bare and along with her arms tied behind her again.

2 The First Suspect

Following Pesce’s homicide, the 27-man HPD activity drive started organising roadblocks everywhere in the metropolis. The objective of those roadblocks was to cease and query residents in regards to the murders. One of many folks questioned at a roadblock stated that they noticed a white or mixed-race man driving Pesce’s automotive.

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On Could 9, Honolulu officers made their first arrest. They slapped handcuffs on the unnamed informant who had led them to Pesce’s corpse. The suspect’s girlfriend then advised police that the person was a “easy talker” who had an curiosity in sexual bondage. The ex-wife stated that the suspect usually had intercourse along with her after tying her arms behind her again.

Different info made this man a viable suspect. For example, the suspect’s ex-wife stated that every homicide coincided with a home dispute between the couple. Throughout these fights, the suspect usually left the home and didn’t come residence once more till the following morning or through the early morning hours. The suspect additionally labored as a mechanic close to Lagoon Drive and lived on Ewa Seashore. Amazingly, this man was let go by Honolulu detectives, even after he failed a polygraph examination.[9]

1 New Suspect

Two months after the Could 9 arrest, an unidentified lady come ahead and advised police that she had seen Pesce along with her killer on the night time of April 29. When this man was introduced in and stood earlier than a police lineup, the eyewitness efficiently picked him out. Nonetheless, she finally refused to cooperate as a result of she advised police that the person had seen her on April 29 as properly.

In Could 2018, the tv present Breaking Murder revisited the Honolulu Strangler case and named a brand new suspect: Howard Homosexual. Nicely, the time period “new” is a stretch—Homosexual is the person who led police to Pesce’s physique again in 1986. Within the episode, former prosecutor Peter Carlisle all however admitted that Homosexual was the killer. In keeping with Carlisle, police lacked sufficient proof towards Homosexual, and had the HPD had entry to DNA testing in 1986, then Homosexual would have been simply convicted.[10]

The present’s investigators additionally prompt that the Honolulu Strangler could have additionally killed 19-year-old Lisa Au in 1982. Au was final seen alive simply after midnight on January 21, 1982. Her automotive was later discovered close to Kapaa Quarry Street. Ten days later, on January 31, 1982, a jogger discovered Au’s nude, decomposing physique on Tantalus Lookout in Waikiki. Police had been by no means in a position to formally record Au’s reason behind loss of life.


Benjamin Welton

Benjamin Welton is a West Virginia native at the moment residing in Boston. He works as a contract author and has been revealed in The Weekly Commonplace, The Atlantic, Listtopick, and different publications.

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