From KHON2’s archives: Police suspect serial killer in 5 women’s murders

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In the 1980s, five women were murdered and police believed it may have been the work of a serial killer. Jack Kellner took a look at these baffling cases in our “Island Files” series.

On Jan. 15, 1986, the almost nude body of a Leilehua High School student, Regina Sakamoto, was found floating off the Keehi Lagoon shoreline near Honolulu International Airport’s reef runway. She had been raped and strangled and her hands were tied behind her back.

About seven and a half months prior to Sakamoto’s death, the body of 25-year-old Vicky Gail Purdy of Mililani was found in the same lagoon. Like Sakamoto, she had been raped and murdered and her hands were tied behind her back.

Police dismissed the similarities as coincidence until three youths, crabbing in Mapunapuna drainage canal, discovered a bundle wrapped in plastic sheeting. Wrapped in the bundle was the decomposing body of Denise Hughes, the 21-year-old wife of a Pearl Harbor sailor. Hughes’ hands were tied behind her back. Like Sakamoto, she had been strangled.

Two months after Hughes was found, a road crew found yet another woman’s body below a freeway overpass. The victim was 25-year-old Louise Medeiros. Her hands were also tied behind her back. Medeiros was three months pregnant. Police believe Medeiros was abducted while waiting for a bus at the airport.

On May 3, 1986, 36-year-old Linda Pesce was found. She had been reported missing one week prior and her car was found abandoned on the H-1 Freeway viaduct near the airport. Pesce’s hands were tied behind her. It appeared that a concrete block was placed on her back after she had been covered with dirt.

Police arrested and questioned a suspect, but he was never charged and none of the cases has been solved.

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