Big Island Man Charged in Mother’s Murder

May 2, 2020, 2:26 PM HST (Updated May 2, 2020, 2:40 PM)

Robert Dean Merrill

A Big Island man has been charged with the murder of his mother.

Hawaiʻi Island Police on Saturday charged Robert Dean Merrill with second-degree murder in the death of his 82-year-old mother, Betty Jean Merril, of Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Merrill remains in police custody in lieu of $1 million bail pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Monday, May 4, in Hilo District Court.

Merrill’s charges stem from an incident on Friday morning, May 1, shortly before 9 a.m., when Puna Patrol officers responded to a residence on 15th Avenue in Hawaiian Paradise Park. Arriving officers contacted Merrill outside of the residence, and they were directed to a bedroom in residence, where they discovered the unresponsive victim with severe injuries to her head and facial areas, according to a police report.


Merrill was subsequently arrested at the scene and transported to the Hilo cellblock while detectives with the Area I Criminal Investigation Section continued the murder investigation.

The victim was transported to the Hilo Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 12:39 p.m. An autopsy was performed, 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.

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 Hawai’i Police Department’s non-emergency line at 808-935-3311.

The news comes just days a South Kona man was brought up on charges for the murder of his son, after which he was granted supervised release amid the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to stop the spread.

James Bonham, 66, was charged with second-degree murder in the death of his 45-year-old son Joshua Bonham and granted supervised release by District Court Judge Margaret Masunaga during his initial court appearance Friday morning.


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