No need for clashing interests in murder probe

Sometimes the best ideas are the obvious ones that make you slap your


A woman called to ask why The GardenIsland doesn’t print the

police artist’s sketch of a possible suspect in the West Side killings on the

front page every day until an arrest is made. She also wondered why the drawing

isn’t posted in more public places than the reported few on that side of the


Great questions.

For the newspaper’s part, the answer was that

the sketch won’t be a daily 1-A staple. But we’ll print it more often. We

shouldn’t assume everybody saw it the first time we printed it and committed it

to memory.

As for other ways of displaying the rendering of the man

authorities think may have murdered two women and brutally attacked a third

since April, the early word back from Kaua’i County officials is that stores,

offices, community centers and so on are good places to do it, alright, and

worth looking into.

The lady who gave some brains here a kick-start noted

that, in other parts of the world where she has lived at the same time a serial

killer was at work, drawings of the suspect were virtually plastered

everywhere. What better way is there, she pointed out, to get the public

involved – and put possible victims on alert – than to make death’s face


For instance, women visitors to Kaua’i, traveling around,

hitchhiking and whatever, could certainly be at risk if they meet up

unknowingly with a serial killer.

The news media’s role in helping make

them and others aware of that risk can sometimes ruffle feathers. Just this

week, several readers complained to TGI about its front-page story Monday about

infamous serial murder cases around the world. Our intent with the story was to

inform Kauaians about the scope and prevalence of such cases, many of which

weren’t initially thought to be serial in nature until the body count climbed.

But upset readers claimed we were frightening people needlessly, especially

with the headline “A murderous plague comes to Kaua’i.”

Two days later,

Kaua’i Police inspector Mel Morris, in a prepared statement, scolded the media

for continuing to “sensationalize” the island’s cases and, in the process,

potentially jeopardizing the investigation. He apparently was set off by a

Honolulu television station’s news report – “flat out wrong,” he called it –

that police had a suspect in custody.

Morris may have a point, at least on

the TV station.

Also right are the woman who wants to see the suspect

sketch more often, and other concerned citizens who want the Westside cases to

be high-profile until they’re solved.

The respective interests should mesh,

not clash.

TGI editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 245-3681 (ext.

227) and [



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