East Hawaii News

Female body badly burned in a banyan tree in Hilo identified by Hawai’i Island Police

Listen to this Article
1 minute
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Hawai’i Island police have identified the badly burned body that was discovered on Jan. 2, 2023, in a large banyan tree on Banyan Drive in Hilo as 59-year-old Deborah Ann Cohn-Ho’omalu of Hilo.

Cohn-Ho’omalu had incorporated a business in 2015 in Hawai’i called Helping Hands Helping Hearts, but it was administratively terminated in 2019.
An autopsy performed last week showed no signs of non-fire related trauma. The final autopsy results are pending toxicology and additional forensic testing.
On Jan. 2, shortly before 11:30 a.m., the Hawai’i Fire Department responded to report of a large banyan tree on fire on Banyan Drive, across from the Reed’s Bay Beach Park.

After putting out the blaze, fire personnel discovered the charred human remains in an opening at the base of the tree.

South Hilo patrol officers canvassed the area and interviewed numerous beachgoers; but no one reported hearing any type of disturbance prior to witnessing the smoke and flames coming from within the banyan tree.
Police ask anyone who may have information relative to this case to contact Detective Clarence Davies of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2382 or email at [email protected], or the police department’s non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311.
Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.



Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily or weekly
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments