RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
This is the house at 91-1024 Noholike St. in Ewa Beach where Darnell Griffin, charged with murder, lived.
Killer next door ‘was a really nice guy’
It never occurred to Darnell Griffin's neighbors that he was a convicted killer.
Griffin lived in an Ewa Beach neighborhood in a two-story home with his wife and three sons. Backyard barbecues were the norm.
Every day whenever the Katina family would come home, their next-door neighbors could be seen near their two-car garage.
Siai Katina said Griffin would usually stop by to speak to her father, David Katina, a pastor at Koinonia Christian Center in Waipahu.
"When we saw him around, we never thought anything of him," she said. "He was a really nice guy, and him and his family were really involved when they came to church."
The family is shocked that Griffin is not only a convicted killer, but also has been arrested again in connection with another killing.
Griffin, 48, was arrested Thursday at the Halawa Correction Center, where he was being held on parole violations.
He is accused of raping and murdering 20-year-old Evelyn Luka in 1999. Luka was found unconscious in a grassy area near the Ka Uka Boulevard onramp to the H-2 freeway.
Nobody was home at the Griffin home yesterday. And the Katinas believe the family left since the media was alerted of Griffin's arrest.
"We usually see them when we come home every day, and somebody would be in the garage," Siai said. "But since (Friday), there's been nobody."
David Katina Jr., 14, was friends with one of Griffin's teenage stepsons.
The Griffins appeared to be a loving family, the Katinas said.
Griffin was initially charged with second-degree murder, but yesterday police also charged him with first-degree sexual assault. He is being held in lieu of $5 million bail and is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow morning.
Griffin was out on parole after his conviction in the 1980 strangling death of 26-year-old Lynn M. Gherardi. He was sentenced to life in prison, but was released in 1996.
Police credit improved technology and a 2-year-old law that requires all convicted felons to submit a DNA sample to a national DNA registry with the break that led to Griffin's arrest.
Authorities said Griffin submitted a DNA sample in November that was matched to evidence in Luka's murder in February.
Police in the Cold Case Unit reactivated the case and conducted a second DNA test after Griffin was arrested on parole violations last week. The second test also tied Griffin to the crime, police said.