Friday, April 9, 2004

At Honolulu police headquarters in downtown yesterday, Neil Damaran, an HPD evidence specialist, displayed the surfboard belonging to missing surfer Courtney Marcher. The board was recovered by fishermen off Kaena Point.

Shark expert looks
at surfer’s leash

An expert cannot tell what
caused the cuts on the board
leash of the missing woman

Honolulu police called in a state shark expert yesterday to look at the surfboard of a missing North Shore woman.

Police said, however, that the expert could not determine what caused serrated cuts on the leash of the board. Investigators identified the 6-foot white surfboard as that of Courtney Marcher, a 22-year-old woman who had been last seen surfing at Velzyland on Sunday morning.

"We had a shark expert from the Department of Land & Natural Resources examine it initially," investigator Phil Camero said. "At this time it's inconclusive. ... He can't tell as far as what could cause these markings."

Camero said two fishermen recovered the board Wednesday morning, about three miles from Kaena Point. Though the leash was still attached to the surfboard, it was only about 2 1/2 feet long.

The rest of the leash, which would have attached to Marcher's ankle, was missing, and what was left appeared to have been either cut or pulled apart by some force.

"We have no evidence of foul play, and the investigation does not lead in that direction," he said. "We do know that she was in the water, and there's a strong possibility that she did receive some trouble in the water."

A view of the severed end of the surf leash still attached to the board.

Coast Guard officials said the distance between Velzyland and Kaena Point where the surfboard was found is about 6 1/2 miles. According to lifeguards and Honolulu Fire Department personnel, Camero said, it is possible that the board could have drifted there since Sunday.

Marcher had last been seen by friends surfing at Velzyland between 6:30 and 8:30 Sunday morning. Though police said witnesses saw Marcher paddling toward shore, no one actually saw her get out of the water.

Camero said Marcher has a history of epilepsy but has not had any recent seizures. Marcher's roommates said if she had gotten out of the water, it would have only been a five-minute walk to their Huelo Street home.

"She was actually supposed to have dinner with us at 8 p.m. Sunday," said roommate Vince Bechet. "When she didn't arrive, that's when we started getting a bit worried."

Camero said Honolulu police will do further tests to analyze Marcher's surfboard.

In the meantime, however, he said police do not intend to continue their search for her unless they discover new evidence that prompts them to do so.

Bechet said Marcher had just moved into the Huelo Street home on April 1 after responding to an ad posted outside the Pupukea Foodland.

According to her mother, Patricia, she had moved to Hawaii from Florida two months ago.

"She is gregarious and has a lot of fun," said Patricia Marcher. "She's very open.

"She's a beautiful, wonderful person. I would love to know if anyone has seen her at all."


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