Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Officials confer on Monday morning after the bodies of Jo Anna Miranda, 40, and her daughters, Jasmine, 7, and Chanell, 3, were found in their home at Lunalilo Home Road.

Suicide note
turns up in fire

A woman suffering from a
rare disease apparently killed
her children and herself

A suicide note was recovered from the room where the bodies of a mother and her two daughters were found in Hawaii Kai Monday morning, according to sources close to the investigation.

Honolulu firefighters discovered the bodies of Jo Anna Miranda, 40, Jasmine, 7, and Chanell, 3, in the master bedroom at 1038 Lunalilo Home Road.

Police initially said there appeared to be no foul play involved in the deaths, but sources said yesterday that was before the note was found.

Still, police have not officially reclassified the case as a double murder and suicide until the city medical examiner determines a cause of death.

Homicide Lt. David Kamai said yesterday he will release information concerning the case after autopsy results are released, which were expected today.

Firefighters said when they were called to the home at 6:37 a.m. they had to force their way inside through a glass sliding door and break the locked door of the master bedroom. Once inside they said they quickly put out a small fire which had consumed most of a queen-sized bed in the room.

After they kicked open windows to ventilate the thick smoke out of the room, the bodies were found close together on the floor near a box mattress and a dresser drawer.

Sources said that Miranda suffered from a medical condition that may have caused depression.

According to a retired surgeon who lived next to the family, Miranda suffered from Meniere's Disease, a rare disease that caused her to suffer from dizziness, fluctuating hearing loss and hypersensitivity to loud sounds.

"She did not go out," next-door neighbor Dr. Feung Lee. "If there were noisy events or noisy people, she would avoid them because it bothered her."

Miranda, her husband Wendell and their two daughters moved into the Hawaii Kai home in December after living with her parents in Palolo.

According to police records, Miranda's husband filed a missing person's report in October 2003 involving his wife. However, that matter was never assigned to investigators because she was found quickly.

According to the Meniere's Disease Information Center Web site, other symptoms of the disease include episodes of rotational vertigo (causing a patient to feel the surroundings are spinning), tinnitus (fluctuating sound, not from an external cause, ranging from a roaring to whining), or a sense of fullness in the ears (plugged sensation).

"Depression is common among patients with chronic illnesses, including Meniere's Disease," the Web site states.

Neighbors said Miranda was a housewife, her husband is a stevedore and that the family seemed to be happy.

Lee said that in the past 3 1/2 months he had come to know and love them.

"To me she was just like my daughter," he said. "I would love to have her and her children as my family.

"I miss them," he said. "I wish that I could have talked to her."


Meniere's Disease

The illness is a rare, sometimes debilitating disease named after French physician Prosper Meniere, who first described the symptoms. Patients experience "attacks" of varying intensity and duration, ranging from annoying to totally disabling.

The symptoms are:

>> Fluctuating hearing loss
>> Rotational vertigo (causing patients to feel the world is spinning around them)
>> Fluctuating tinnitus (a sound heard when there is no sound)
>> A sense of fullness in the ears (plugged feeling)


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