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Case 62: The Honolulu Strangler

Casefile True Crime

Release Date: 10/07/2017

Since the tourism boom of the 1950's, the Hawaiian islands have been enticing tourists into their relaxed, laid-back lifestyle. From the early days, honeymooners and holidaymakers could arrive in droves, welcomed by smiling hula dancers with floral leis.

Hawaii is made up of 132 islands with a total area of six and a half thousand square miles. The Island of Oahu is home to the state’s Capital, Honolulu, and the famous Waikiki Beach. It has a large port, Army and Naval Bases and is home to Pearl Harbour.

In 1985, Oahu saw a huge influx of young adults migrate, often for the Army or Navy – and also due to the huge boom in telecommunications companies that had expanded into Hawaii.
The central years of that decade were an unusual period between the early eighties recession, and the stock market crash of 87' - and the dark years that followed.

Like the mainland and much of the developed world, Hawaii was hit with high unemployment and financial stress in the early 80’s. Many hotels couldn't survive, and some of the largest travel companies were forced to close. But during the mid-eighties, the economy shifted. During this small window, there was a temporary period of new growth. Although there had been a significant decline in tourism since the boom of the 50’s and 60’s, in the years 1985 and 1986, ten and a half million people visited the islands of Hawaii.

This boom period brought in huge Japanese investment and money started rolling in. The grand old hotels of the 50's and 60's were renovated and redeveloped, and the prime land was subdivided for golf resorts. In 1986 alone, Japanese investors spent between one and two billion dollars on property.

The resort development boom of the mid 80's helped slow the unemployment rate which had spiked a few years earlier. But during this period, Hawaii also saw an increase in violent crime, rape and murder in particular. The Aloha state—with its swaying palm trees and mysterious rich volcanic landscape—was about to change. The laid-back paradise was about to experience a time of fear.

Time no one was prepared for...


Researched and written by Anna Priestland



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The following articles from the Honolulu Star Newspaper archives;

  • December 18th 1985
  • January 18th 1986
  • January 27th 1986
  • April 5th 1986
  • April 9th 1986
  • May 2nd 1986
  • May 4th 1986
  • May 6th 1986
  • May 10th 1986
  • May 14th 1986
  • January 1st 1987
  • September 3rd 2000
  • July 22nd 2001



Murder victim’s brother says revisiting cold case could finally lead to closure



Our episodes deal with serious and often distressing incidents. If you feel at anytime you need support, please contact your local crisis centre. Some suggestions for confidential support for men women and children:



Lifeline Crisis Support: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: Depression and anxiety support: 1300 22 46 36

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Men's Line:  1300 78 99 78

Headspace: Youth Mental Health Foundation: see headspace.org.au for your local centre



Distress &  Lifeline: 1800 273 8255

Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741 741

Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 799 7233

Victim Connect: support for victims of crime: 855 484 2846



Mind: mental health support: 0300 123 3393

SANE: mental health support: 0300 304 7000

Samaritans support network: 116 123

National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300



For a list of Canadian crisis centres: https://thelifelinecanada.ca/help/call/