Kauai’s cold case unit focuses on island’s unsolved murders

Cold case solved: Sandra Galas

A couple on vacation shot to death, their bodies found on a hiking trail. Two women dead from stab wounds, victims of what police say was the work of a serial killer. A man murdered a day after his release from prison.

These deaths and several others share one thing in common: They make up Kauai’s unsolved killings and are the focus of the island’s cold case unit.

The victims’ photos can be seen on the web site of the Kauai prosecutor. They are images that haunt the people who knew them, and even the investigators who work to bring their killers to justice.

Related Link: Cold Cases – Kauai Office of the Prosecuting Attorney

“We just want to assure the public that we have not forgotten,” said First Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Takata, “and also the victims’ families, that we have not forgotten their loved ones.”

“These kinds of cases just haunt you,” said Roy Asher, assistant chief of the Investigative Services Bureau. “It never goes away. It’s constantly there. Everyday, I drive past the crime scenes on my way home.”

So two years ago, with the help of federal money, police and prosecutors formed a cold case unit.

And the unit has already cracked a case. Darren Galas is set to go to trial soon for the murder of his wife. Sandra. in 2006. She was found strangled in her car, parked in the garage of her Eleele home.

Because it’s still pending, officials couldn’t give specific information on how they found the evidence to arrest Galas.

Social media is another tool of technology that has recently come into play. The unit now has a Facebook page, where people can send in tips to the prosecutor’s office while keeping their identities a secret.

The biggest cold case on Kauai is the so-called serial killings case 14 years ago. Two women, Lisa Bissell and Darren Singer, were both stabbed to death. A third woman survived the attack. At the time, the police chief said all three victims fit the same profile.

Police have questioned several people in connection with the Bissell case, but no one has yet been charged with the murder. Investigators believe Bissell was attacked elsewhere and then taken to the isolated Polihale Beach Park on the west end of the island.

The cold case unit hopes technology will one day give them the break they need to solve that case, as well as others.

“We’re in the process of contracting with a DNA lab,” Takata said, “a very reputable lab, and we intend to send all our evidence there for analysis.”

The Kauai cold case unit is the only one of its kind in the state, but that doesn’t mean other islands aren’t looking into unsolved crimes. Hawaii police departments said they have officers within their criminal investigations unit that handle the cases.

But what makes Kauai’s different is in the involvement of the prosecutor’s office.

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