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HAWAII: The Honolulu Strangler

Vicereine Killbride 2012/07/02 19:15:18
When we think of Hawaii, a serial killer isn't the first thing that comes to mind. But between 1985 and 1986, Hawaii did indeed have a serial killer.

And he has never been caught.

It began with Vicki Gail Purdy, the 25 year-old wife of an Army helicopter pilot. On the night of May 25, 1985, she was supposed to meet friends for a night of clubbing in Waikiki, but never arrived. The next morning her body was found bound, beaten and sexually assaulted in Keehi Lagoon. Vicki's husband shared his suspicion with police that her murder may have been in connection with her job at a porn film rental shop where two women were killed the previous year.

Waipahu resident Regina Sakamoto was last heard from by her boyfriend just after 7 a.m. on the morning of January 14, 1986. She never arrived for classes at Leilehau High School. The next morning her body was discovered at Keehi Lagoon. Because of the location, the manner of assault and the method of murder, detectives quickly suspected it was the work of the same killer in Vicki Purdy's death.

On the morning of January 30, 1986, secretary Denise Hughes did not arrive for work. Two days later her body was discovered by two fishermen in the Moanalua stream. The killer's modus operandi was identical to the deaths of Vicki and Regina and, realizing a serial killer was at large, a task force was created on February 5, 1986, in an effort to catch him.

Twenty-five year-old Louise Medeiros was returning to Waipahu after a visit with family in Kauai following the death of her mother on March 26, 1986, when she disappeared after disembarking her plane in Oahu. On April 2, she was found in the Waikele stream. She had suffered the same cruelties as the victims before her.

On the evening of April 29, 1986, Linda Pesce left at for work around seven o'clock. Thirty minutes later her car was found, sans Linda, parked on the side of the Nimitz-H1 viaduct. The next day her roommate reported the 36 year-old woman missing. A white male contacted police and told them a psychic had revealed to him Linda's body would be found on Sand Island. Taking detectives to the psychic's location, no body was found but a further search of the area uncovered Linda's nude corpse.

Police strongly suspected the informant of the murders, especially after conversations with his ex-wife and girlfriend revealed a bondage fetish but there simply was never enough evidence to hold him.

Later another woman came forward and claimed to have seen Linda Pesce with a man on the night of the murder and successfully picked their suspect out of a photo line-up. However, the woman refused to testify out of fear for her own safety.

No more murders occurred that could be linked to The Honolulu Strangler after the discovery of Linda Pesce. The suspect eventually moved to the mainland and, although never publicly named, is said to have died in 2005.

The unsolved crimes of The Honolulu Strangler has never been written about in a solo book but was the topic of a chapter in the January 2011 book Real Life Serial Killers by Crystil Reynolds.
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