Police see link in Westside slayings

Several possible suspects in women’s deaths

By DENNIS WILKEN

TGI Staff

Writer

LIHU’E — Kaua`i Police inspector Melvin Morris acknowledged

Thursday that there are similarities in the deaths of the woman discovered at

Pakala Beach Wednesday afternoon and Lisa Bissell, found murdered April 7 in a

ditch at Polihale State Park.

The height, weight, age, stature and race of

the victims are “very similar,” Morris said. Also, the attacks — including a

May stabbing and attempted rape of a 52-year-old Kekaha woman who survived —

all occurred in the same general Westside area, he stated.

The latest

victim, like Bissell, was partially clothed when her corpse was discovered —

obscured from public view by a sand knoll approximately 20 feet from the water

line at Pakala Beach.

Morris said police believe the latest victim — her

identity still not released yesterday — was killed where her body was found

but that Bissell was “dumped” after being murdered.

The most recent victim

was described as a 43-year-old Caucasian, 5-foot-4 and 108 pounds —

information taken from an expired 1995 Hawai’i driver license found at the

murder site.

Autopsy reports are expected to be released by tomorrow,

according to Morris.

The victim’s name was withheld Thursday afternoon when

Morris and police chief George Freitas met with reporters in Lihu’e in a press

conference.

Police officials said they still hadn’t notified next of kin.

But they did release a photo of the victim in an attempt to gain information

from anyone who thinks they saw the woman before her death.

According to

Morris, the cause of death has not been officially confirmed. But police say

the victim may have been sexually assaulted. The victim had head wounds and

injuries to both hands.

Morris said that without autopsy reports, he

couldn’t characterize the wounds to the victim’s hands as defensive in

nature.

“We have not dismissed the possibility that the cases are

related,” Morris said. But neither he nor Freitas wanted to talk specifics

about a suspect, other than to say there are “persons of interest.”

Freitas

said that although the second victim, who survived, did give a general

description, she was unable to make a positive identification.

Freitas

dismissed the detaining of possible suspects as “television,” but he and Morris

did say that some of the possible suspects “did have a criminal past.”

And

Morris added that Kaua’i County prosecutors had already been at the latest

crime scene.

Freitas said officers, including horse patrols, would

canvass the west side for at least the next week.

When asked about safety

concerns, Freitas carefully worded a warning of sorts.

The victim “put

herself at some risk” camping in a remote area, Freitas said. “She had a

perfect right to do this, but clearly now the message should be there has to be

some caution in lifestyle.”

Staff writer Dennis Wilken can be reached

at 245-3681 (ext. 252) and dwilken@pulitzer.net

Photograph of Pakala

homicide victim

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