Homeless unfazed
by recent deaths

Several men believe 3 recent
deaths were all related to alcohol

By Nelson Daranciang

Homeless men in Honolulu told the Star-Bulletin they do not believe they are being targeted for violent crime despite the deaths of three homeless men on Oahu in the past two months.

Homicide detectives are investigating all three cases, but "we don't see a connection" between them, said Honolulu police Lt. Bill Kato.

On Monday the body of 61-year-old Taaviliga Panapa was found stuffed in a garbage bag in some bushes near the five-mile marker on Tantalus Drive. He had a head injury and evidence of compression or choking around his neck.

On May 14 the burned and decomposing body of John Reverio, 23, was found near Keaau Beach Park on the Leeward coast. His cause of death has not been determined, but police have classified the case as a suspicious unattended death.

And on April 8 the body of 28-year-old Gabriel Chaney was found in Ala Moana Beach Park. The Honolulu medical examiner said he died from blunt head trauma combined with alcohol intoxication.

Many homeless men believe the deaths are alcohol-related.

"Probably they see the wrong people, hang out with the wrong crowd," said one homeless man who did not wish to be identified.

Police said Chaney may have been drinking with other men in the park the night before his body was discovered.

The men who gather at the Institute for Human Services in Iwilei said the single men's shelter is safe, and those who go there for meals and a place to sleep are peaceful.

"If you keep to yourself, you're OK," said Andre Hughes. "If you want to get drunk, you're asking for trouble."

Panapa was a regular at IHS, said Catherine Graham, IHS manager. The last time Panapa slept in the shelter was on Friday, she said.

Bradford Carswell said he knew Panapa.

"He used to hang out on River Street. He owed a debt," Carswell said.

Carswell did not know Chaney. The homeless people at Ala Moana Beach Park are a different crowd from those who hang out downtown. He said Ala Moana is dangerous.

"I wouldn't camp over there," Carswell said.

Police said most of the homeless people who used to camp in Aala Park outside downtown Honolulu moved to Ala Moana Beach Park.

Reverio was known to frequent Nanakuli Beach Park but regularly accompanied a woman to monthly events at the Hawaii Homeless Women and Children Crisis Intervention Shelter in Makaha, said Nani Kahoani, shelter coordinator.

Kahoani believes Reverio's death was alcohol-related.

He was last seen on May 6 heading toward Makaha from Mauna Lahilahi Beach Park, Kato said.

Reverio was identified three days after his body was found, but was not reported missing.

That does not surprise other homeless men.

"That's what happens when you're homeless. You're written off," said another homeless man who did not want to be identified.

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