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Man Charged With Murder for 1978 Kalapana Death

July 5, 2022, 10:39 AM HST
* Updated July 5, 12:31 PM
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Steven Ray Simpson

A 72-year-old man was indicted for murder in a 1978 cold case investigation, the prosecutor’s office stated today, Tuesday, July 5.

Steven Ray Simpson is charged with the murder of Valerie Warshay, which occurred in Kalapana in April of 1978. Warshay was a park ranger from California who arrived in the spring of 1978 to explore Hawai‘i Island. She was 26 years old when she died.

Her body was discovered at Harry K. Brown Park.

The murder charge is drafted in compliance with the statute as it was in effect in 1978, a press release from the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney stated. Murder is punishable by a life term of imprisonment with the possibility of parole.

Simpson is scheduled to make his initial appearance in Hilo Circuit Court via video conference on Wednesday, July 6. Simpson remains in custody in lieu of $250,000 bail
in this case.

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“We hope that the filing of these charges brings the Warshay family some sense of closure. They’ve waited a long time for justice,” Prosecuting Attorney Kelden Waltjen stated. “I’d like to recognize the hard work of Hawai‘i Police Department Detective Derek Morimoto, Lieutenant Rio Amon-Wilkins, the Area I Criminal Investigation Section, all of the retired officers who played a role in this investigation, and Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Annaliese Wolf, who will be handling the prosecution of this case and is our Office’s cold case prosecution lead. We’d also like to thank the Department of Public Safety’s Sheriff Division, First Deputy Sheriff Lanikoa Dobrowolsky, and Deputy Sheriff Kevin Boswell for their assistance in the arrest.”

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The cold case investigation was handled by Det. Derek Morimoto, Area I Criminal Investigation Section, Hawai‘i Police Department.

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