LIHUE — Some North Shore residents are concerned after spotting a familiar man suspected of breaking into multiple homes on that side of the island.
Richard Isaac Leibman, 37, of Hanalei, known in the community as the “Jesus Bandit” for his robe attire and long hair, like a Bible character, is wanted by the Kauai Police Department after he failed to appear at a court hearing. Leibman was arrested last year for trespassing in residences but later walked out of his mental health treatment center. He was spotted by Kilauea resident Leo McCarthy on Saturday.
“Initially, we heard before we saw him on Saturday that he was back,” McCarthy told The Garden Island about rumors circulating on the North Shore that Leibman was back in the area. “He’s scared the hell out of a lot of people.”
McCarthy said he saw Leibman at Secret Beach near the Daniel K. Inouye Kilauea Point Lighthouse. Several police officers confronted Leibman, but he eluded them by quickly climbing a cliff to the homes just west of the lighthouse and vanished.
“All of us respect him a little bit — he’s the outlaw who can’t be caught,” said McCarthy, who has lived in the area for 20 years. “But the bottom line is he’s crossed the line and terrorized people a little bit.”
Police received several complaints in early 2014 that Leibman was entering Princeville homes to take food and other belongings. He was arrested on a Princeville golf course on March 3 and charged with second-degree criminal trespassing and third-degree assault.
Leibman’s case was suspended after he was found not fit to proceed to trial in Kauai District Court. He was referred to the state Department of Health for further evaluation but failed to show at a status hearing on Dec. 4.
“If he regains fitness, the case would go back to pending trial,” County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar said.
Judge Trudy Senda ordered a bench warrant for Leibman’s non-appearance with bail set at $10,000. A state mental health official informed the court that Leibman absconded from the Kahi Mohala facility.
Prior to his recent arrest, Leibman had two cases in 5th Circuit Court involving unlawfully entering, burglary, theft, resisting arrest, escape and assault against a law enforcement officer. He was found mentally fit to proceed in one case but not the other and spend some time under observation at Hawaii State Hospital.
Efforts of his family to get him care in Texas led to a time-served sentence. However, Leibman ran away from them at Lihue Airport. With no charges, he disappeared into remote North Shore areas until residents reported he was entering homes.
Leibman is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs roughly 140 pounds with a thin build. He is of Caucasian descent with blue eyes and light brown hair. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call KPD Dispatch at 241-1711, Investigative Services Bureau, 241-1696, or Crime Stoppers, 241-1887.
While violent has not been reported in connection to Leibman’s break-ins, McCarthy said it’s created an uneasy feeling in the neighborhood that someone may be rummaging through homes while owners are sleeping.
McCarthy said he hopes officers can catch Leibman so the man can get the help he needs.
“I don’t want to see any harm come to this guy or our community,” he said. “I just hope this is resolved very peacefully.”