A violent August doubled the
number of homicides
for the year
Reaction in wake of cab driver's slayingBy Rod Ohira
More than half of Oahu's 19 reported homicides this year have occurred in just 32 days, since Aug. 2.
"The recent rash of homicides is a very, very alarming trend," Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle said. "I can't think of a month that was as bad as August."
There were nine homicides in August, including one military case, compared with 20 all of last year, when Oahu recorded its lowest total in 20 years. A 10th homicide happened yesterday.
"I'm not seeing any specific patterns," Carlisle said. "They're all different types.
"Three are domestic violence, including the military one, and in two others there's a question of mental stability (of the suspects)."
Police Lt. Allen Napoleon said domestic violence is usually a factor in about a third of all homicide cases, which is holding true this year. Many are also drug-related, he said.
The 18 civilian homicides include a murder-suicide and the death of Waianae Intermediate School employee Iwalani Kaleikoa, who was fatally injured while trying to break up a fight between two students. Prosecutors declined to charge the students.
In 12 of the remaining 16 cases, police have either charged or arrested suspects.
No one has been arrested in yesterday's slaying of a cab driver at Kailua Beach Park. Police today identified the dead man as Han Soo Kim, 41, and appealed for the public's help in the case.
Nor have there been arrests in the July stabbing death of Circuit Court custodian Edwin Iwata, or the August deaths of two women -- Michelle Ann Bensinger, 24, and Jubilee Lum, 21 -- whose bodies were found in a Waialua field and outside a Beretania Street Dumpster, respectively.
Also in August, police charged two men with murder in connection with the June 1997 disappearance of Steven Tozon and Tranquilino "Junior" Bati, who are presumed dead. Murder charges in the same case are also pending against a former prison guard, who is in federal custody for drug-related offenses.
A fourth suspect, who was in custody on an auto theft charge, was ordered held on $1 million bail after police booked him Aug. 15 for second-degree murder in connection with the disappearance of John Wailehua-Hansen, who has been missing since March 1999 and is presumed dead. The 39-year-old suspect has not yet been charged.
The Army, meanwhile, has a suspect in custody in a slaying Aug. 26 on Helemano Military Reservation.
Oahu homicides in 1999:1. Jan. 20: Patrick Fuller, 31, of Waimanalo was shot by Chad Barboza, 20, as he approached Barboza's Kaneohe home at 45-049 Lilipuna Place between midnight and 1 a.m. Barboza, charged Jan. 21 with second-degree murder, told police he mistook Fuller for someone else.
2. Feb. 3: Eleanor "Ellie" Wimberly, 43, was shot to death in her Waiau home at 98-442 Hoono St. Police arrested Matthew James Clement, 27, on Feb. 6 following a 16-hour standoff at 98-114 Kauhihau Place in Waiau, on a Family Court warrant. On Feb. 9, Clement was charged with murdering Wimberly.
3. March 27: Melchor Tabag, 41, of Kaneohe gave a Kirby vacuum cleaner demonstration at the Kanoulu Street residence of Michael Robert Lawrence, 23, and has not been seen since. Lawrence was driving Tabag's car when arrested the same day. Lawrence was charged with murder on March 30. Police suspect that Tabag was killed with a claw hammer and that his body was dismembered.
4. April 5: Taxi cab owner Paul Salazar, 33, was beaten to death in his first-floor Punchbowl apartment at 404 Magellan Ave. Edward Martin, 28, who was arrested at the scene, was charged with second-degree murder and kidnapping on April 7. Keith Murauskas, 42, who was arrested April 6 in Pearl City, was also charged with murder. Police recovered most of the $40,000-plus in cash that was in a safe stolen from Salazar's apartment.
5. May 13: Iwalani Kaleikoa, 44, a Waianae Intermediate School breakfast and lunch supervisor, fell and struck her head after being shoved while trying to break up a fight between two 14-year-old girls. Prosecutors, looking at intent, did not accept the case as a murder.
6. May 17: Fred Cramer, 81, a longtime Honolulu Symphony volunteer, was strangled and suffocated in his Cleghorn Street apartment in Waikiki. Police are seeking to charge Samuel Cooper Jr., 34, with killing him. Cooper was recently charged in another murder (see No. 15 below).
7. July 12: Joyce M. Usui, 78, was found strangled in her 24th-floor Iolani Court Plaza apartment. Denny Usui, 28, was charged with murder after telling police he caused his grandmother's death. Denny Usui's attorney said his client has a history of schizophrenia.
8. July 14: Edwin T. Iwata, 57, a First Circuit Court custodian, was stabbed to death on the front lawn of the court building about 4:20 a.m.
9. Aug. 3: In a murder-suicide, Candace Robino, 26, was shot to death by Lionel Ortiz, her 31-year-old estranged boyfriend, in a fourth-floor apartment of the Fairway Gardens, 5210 Likini St. in Salt Lake. Ortiz then shot himself.
10. Aug. 2: Tori Bentosino, 3 months old, died at Kapiolani Hospital from what the medical examiner's office later said was blunt trauma to the head and brain. On Aug. 4 her father, Michael James Bentosino, 43, of Waipahu was charged with her murder. Bentosino told police the child slipped from his arms and hit her head on a counter.
11. Aug. 5: Isabelo Taca, 73, was allegedly stabbed in the chest by his son at the family's Mekia Street home in Waimanalo. Angelito Taca, 38, was charged with murder on Aug. 7.
12. Aug. 8: Vaovai "Villam" Faateleupu, 20, died at Queen's Hospital as a result of a beating by two people on Aug. 6 at the Leokane Street 7-Eleven in Waipahu. Tali Fai, 18, who allegedly admitted to police that he kicked Faateleupu three or four times during a fight, was charged with murder on Aug. 11. Police also charged a boy, 17, with murder as a juvenile.
13. Aug. 10: The body of prostitute Michelle Anne Bensinger, 24, of Waikiki was found by two farmers in a Waialua field off Kaukonahua Road near Thomson Corner. Police said the body may have been there up to a week.
14. Aug. 19: James Zoucha, 27, was shot while asleep in his girlfriend Tammy Aiwohi's Nanakuli home at 87-404 Hakimo Road. Tyrone Galdones, 28, Aiwohi's former boyfriend, was arrested the same day in Mililani. He was later charged with murder.
15. Aug. 21: Keith Miyashiro, 49, died at Straub Hospital, the result of a blow to the head during a robbery at Waikiki Video Sales & Rentals at 2139 Kuhio Ave. Miyashiro, an employee, was found unconscious in the store's storage room on Aug. 20. Samuel Cooper Jr., 34, was identified from fingerprints on a heavy roll of shrink-wrap believed to be the murder weapon and a pried-open cashbox recovered at the scene. Cooper, a convicted sex offender, was arrested Aug. 24 on a warrant charging him with a parole violation. When questioned about the slaying, he allegedly confessed to killing Miyashiro. Cooper is also a suspect in the May 17 murder of Fred Cramer.
16. Aug. 24: The nude body of Jubilee Lum, 21, was found wrapped in heavy-duty plastic rubbish bags outside a Dumpster near a flower shop in the 1200 block of South Beretania Street. Lum reportedly was pregnant and also a prostitute. Police have made no arrests but are checking to see if there is a link with the death of Michelle Bensinger.
17. Aug. 26: Bianca Ward, 26 and pregnant, was killed in her Helemano Military Reservation apartment in the 200 block of Akoaakoa Court. Her 33-year-old husband, Timothy, a sergeant assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, turned himself in to military police the same day. He has not been charged.
18. Sept. 1: An 80-year-old woman, an Alzheimer's disease patient, died at Queen's Hospital after being beaten the day before with a wooden cane during an argument with a 52-year-old man at a Waipahu residential care facility at 94-1011 Akihiloa St. Charges are pending against the man.
19. Sept. 2: Cab driver Han Soo Kim, 41, was found dead in his car at Kailua Beach Park. The victim had head injuries and may have been shot.
Community shocked by
cab drivers death
The slaying has prompted Oahu cabBy Jaymes K. Song
companies to alert their drivers
to exercise caution
Hawaii's Korean community is expressing disbelief, sorrow and anger while police continue searching for clues in yesterday's slaying of a 41-year-old taxi cab driver.
Hahn Soo Kim, of Salt Lake, was found dead in his SIDA taxi cab at 2:52 a.m. in the parking lot of Kailua Beach Park. Investigators say robbery appears to be the motive.
Police said they didn't know if he was shot or beaten, but today's autopsy should reveal that.
The Korean community in Hawaii is "in shock," said Ben Oh, a spokesman for the Korean consulate general.
"These things never really happened."
The Korean consul is supporting and assisting Kim's family.
Kim, a Korean national with permanent U.S. residency, moved to Hawaii from Korea in 1985.
He is the father of two boys, 9 and 10 years old.
Local Korean newspapers are reporting that Kim's wife, who works as a vendor at Aloha Market Place in Waikiki, fainted when she heard that her husband had been murdered.
The murder also prompted local taxi companies to alert their drivers and advise them to be more cautious. Charley's Taxi & Tours said they were installing new security measures in their 200 cars, but did not disclose what they were.
But the hazardous job is something that all cabbies are aware of.
Statistically, driving a taxi is the most dangerous occupation in the United States, according to a 1996 workplace violence study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Washington D.C.
The study states that 287 cabbies were murdered from 1980 to 1989 and 138 cabbies were murdered from 1990 to 1992.
"They're a moving 'mom-and-pop' store," said Lt. Clifford Takesono, head of the Honolulu Police robbery detail.
"They are a cash and carry business."
A cab driver can be called out or directed to a place that is not in their best interest like an isolated area, Takesono added. The "availability" is also what makes them vulnerable.
"You can call one anytime," he said.
Police are asking for anyone who may have seen Kim or his station wagon cab from 1 to 3 a.m. yesterday to come forward. Kim was driving a 1984 brown Buick station wagon with Hawaii license plates FTN-306. The cab also had "SIDA 712' printed on the taxi dome light. He was last seen dropping off a passenger in Waikiki and may have picked up another fare nearby.
Witnesses can call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or Detective Clifford Rubio at 529-3358.