Keaʻau Man Arrested in Connection to a Reported Murder in HPP

May 1, 2020, 8:24 PM HST (Updated May 1, 2020, 8:24 PM)
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Robert Dean Merrill

A Keaʻau man was arrested in connection with the death of an elderly woman at a home in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

According to Hawai‘i Police Department, Puna patrol officers responded to a residence on 15th Avenue, shortly before 9 a.m. When they arrived on scene, officers came into contact with 61-year-old Robert Dean Merrill outside the home. When directed to a bedroom in the house, police discovered the unresponsive victim with severe injuries to her head and facial areas.

At 9:45 a.m., Merrill was arrested at the scene and transported to the Hilo cellblock. At the same time, detectives with the Area I Criminal Investigation Section continue the investigation that has been classified as second-degree murder.

The victim was transported to the Hilo Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 12:39 p.m. An autopsy was performed this afternoon, and the pathologist concluded that the victim died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, face and neck. The manner of death was ruled a homicide.

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The identity of the victim is being withheld pending identification and notification of next of kin.

Anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to call Detective Wendall Carter of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at 808-961-2383 or [email protected] or the Hawaiʻi Police Department’s non-emergency line at 808-935-3311.

This is the second murder investigation police have begun this week. On April 28, James Bonham was arrested and later charged with second-degree murder after reportedly shooting his son in the back.

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