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Thursday, March 25, 2004



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COURTESY PHOTO
Wendell Miranda holds his two daughters, Jasmine, left, and Chanell. The children died of smoke inhalation in a fire along with their mother, Jo Anna Miranda. Jasmine was 7 and Chanell was 3 at the time of their deaths.



Deaths deemed
murder-suicide

Jo Anna Miranda and her two
daughters were found dead
in their Hawaii Kai home


Honolulu police have confirmed that a Hawaii Kai woman killed herself and her two daughters in a fire Monday but have not released any more details surrounding their deaths.


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Jo Anna Miranda: She was suffering from an ear disease at the time of her death


The bodies of 40-year-old Jo Anna Miranda, 7-year-old Jasmine and 3-year-old Chanell were found lying together on the floor of the family's master bedroom Monday morning by firefighters who were responding to a small fire that had been burning in the same room. Police said autopsy results released yesterday reported all three died from smoke inhalation but did not release any other information.

"The manner of death for Jasmine and Chanell is classified as homicide; the manner of death of Jo Anna has been classified as a suicide," said homicide Lt. David Kamai. "Our office has initiated a homicide investigation as a result of the medical examiner's findings."

Kamai also said he could not discuss details about a suicide note that was found in the same room that the bodies were discovered in, except to say it is part of a pending investigation.

Gus Hannemann, a longtime family friend of the Mirandas', spoke on behalf of Jo Anna's husband and the girls' father, Wendell Miranda, yesterday. Hannemann said that since the deaths, Wendell Miranda has not been able to step foot into the house where they once lived at 1038 Lunalilo Home Road.

"You have no idea what this man has gone through," Hannemann said. "It's the toughest thing he's had to face in his life."

Hannemann also made a plea on behalf of Wendell Miranda regarding Meniere's disease, a sometimes debilitating inner-ear disease that Miranda suffered from for the past couple of years. Hannemann said the "noise" attacks would sometimes strike Miranda at any time and would make even the sound of falling rain unbearable for her, and that in the end she decided to "take her children with her."

"If anyone in your family is affected by this disease, please be with them, please have the patience, please have the love," Hannemann said. "The only solution ... is 24/7 care."

"It comes on slowly and gradually and it got to the point, like in this case, where no can handle. ... Perhaps Jo Anna feels that they're perhaps in a better place, at peace with God," Hannemann said.

Those suffering from Meniere's suffer from "attacks" of varying intensity and duration, ranging from annoying to totally disabling. Since she was diagnosed with Meniere's disease, Miranda sought help from seven different specialists.

"No one could help her," said Dorothy Berger, who also suffers from Meniere's disease and spoke to Miranda several times regarding her symptoms. "She contacted me over a year ago, but she didn't sound depressed or desperate."

Neighbors reported the sight of smoke at 6:37 a.m. Monday after a passing jogger alerted them. When firefighters arrived, they had to force their way into the house and then again into the bedroom where the bodies were found.

Fire officials said though the fire itself was confined to one queen-sized bed, the smoke was so thick that the bodies were not visible until a firefighter kicked out a window and aired out the room. Police and fire investigators have still not released the cause of the fire. Toxicology tests on the bodies are also pending.

Hannemann said Wendell Miranda thanked the public and the media for the love and aloha over the past week, but asked to be left alone.

"His wife and children are at rest; let him rest, let him deal with it," he said.

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