Prosecutor wants to plumb depths of murderer's mind


POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2008

HILO » Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville says he thinks Frank Janto, in prison for an Oahu murder and to be sentenced for a Big Island killing, will never get out of prison.

But Damerville said there is something authorities can get out of the prisoner: information about Janto's childhood that will help police do their work and save children in danger of growing up to become killers.

Janto, 45, signed an agreement that included pleading guilty to second-degree murder and could include cooperating with a psychologist. Damerville is hopeful that will happen.

Janto is already serving a 75-year sentence for the 1997 murder of Bongak “;Jackie”; Koja on Oahu and pleaded guilty last week to the 1987 murder of Rose Chiquita on the Big Island.

Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle, who obtained a 1998 conviction of Janto in the death of Koja, 59, called him yesterday a “;calamity”; and an “;unmitigated disaster.”;

Janto had stopped Koja during her pre-dawn walk and beat her for five minutes until she died.

In the case of Chiquita, 65, who was also taking an early morning walk, there was evidence that Janto sexually assaulted her and then stabbed her to death.

Honolulu police noticed the similarity to the Hilo case, and their information eventually led Big Island authorities to charge Janto for Chiquita's death long after it happened.

“;I don't believe you can ever release somebody like Mr. Janto,”; Damerville said. But Damerville wants to know what “;triggers”; led Janto to become a killer.

In 1998, Carlisle wrote a long statement to the Star-Bulletin describing Janto's life and crimes in great detail.

Carlisle started with Janto's birth in South Carolina in 1963, the youngest of seven sons, and noted that Janto's parents divorced in 1970 and that his mother brought him to Hawaii.

That is not enough for Damerville. “;It's not just the divorce of his parents (that turned him into a killer). It's something else.”;

Studies have been done on “;brutalization”; of children, Damerville said. “;I strongly suspect when Mr. Janto was a child, he was brutalized.”;

The idea is not to cure Janto. “;It doesn't mean you can go back and change Mr. Janto, because you can't,”; Damerville said.

A psychologist or other professional interviewing Janto will help law enforcement officers, Damerville said. They might be able to learn what to look for in suspects.

The information, he said, could also help save very young children. “;It's all about children,”; he said.