BRANDON ROBERTS / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-BULLETIN
Molokai restaurant owner Robert Spruiell was fatally stabbed Sunday in a hotel in Florida. Spruiell was the owner of Paddlers Inn Restaurant & Bar.
Molokai restaurant owner slain
Florida killing: Robert Spruiell owned Paddlers Inn
WAILUKU » The owner of a Molokai restaurant was stabbed to death in a Florida hotel while attempting to halt illegal drug sales within his business there, Miami-Dade police said.
Robert Spruiell, 38, known on Molokai as "Kamuela Kamakana," died Sunday morning in a hallway of the Golden Nugget Hotel in Sunny Isles Beach, between Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
Spruiell, who owned Paddlers Inn Restaurant & Bar in Kaunakakai, was in Florida for a couple of weeks operating his door-to-door magazine sales business Integrity Sales Inc.
A preliminary police investigation found that Spruiell was trying to stop the selling of drugs to his salespeople when he was stabbed.
"It doesn't surprise me he was trying to help somebody else," said Alicia Montemayor, manager of Paddlers Inn. "We already know he's like that. He was really a great man. He had a great heart."
Several black ribbons have been hung at the doorway and on display cases of the restaurant where he employed 42 people.
Charged with second-degree felony murder is 22-year-old Jeremy Johnson, one of Spruiell's magazine sales employees.
Johnson also was charged with burglary and kidnapping, said Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Nelda Fonticiella.
Fonticiella said Johnson was being held without bail. She said the investigation was continuing.
Molokai resident Shirley Rawlins said Spruiell, a grandson of tennis professional Henry Kamakana Sr., had been visiting the Friendly Isle for a year or two before buying the restaurant. She said Spruiell had bought land and was planning to build a home.
Montemayor said Spruiell, whose Hawaiian mother once lived on Molokai, bought the restaurant in October.
She said Spruiell, divorced with three children on the mainland, planned to make Molokai his permanent home.
"He liked the community, the lifestyle," she said. "He was looking into buying boats. ... He had a lot of plans for his business and the community."