Detective Caceres honored as Police Officer of the Year by Kona Crime Prevention Committee
Hawaiʻi Police Detective Anson Caceres said it was a mix of knowing what to look for and instinct — while voluntarily watching hundreds of hours of surveillance footage — that helped him uncover a suspect in two Kona murder cases.
His perseverance led to the arrest of a 24-year-old Hawai’i Island man who pleaded guilty to multiple murders and assaults.
For this effort, Caceres was honored as Police Officer of the Year during the Kona Crime Prevention Committee’s 2023 luncheon on Wednesday at the Royal Kona Resort.
“I’m just sitting there for hours and watching it,” Caceres said of footage obtained from a video system the day of the murders. “People were just walking by and walking by and that one particular person stopped, peeked and turned around and went the other way. So my instinct was like, that was weird. Why would somebody do that?”
Caceres reviewed video of the area of the first fatal stabbing, that occurred on May 17, 2022, from the closest video system, a big-box store 100 yards away. Despite poor video quality and reach, the detective metucliously went through the footage and noticed a peculiar reaction of a passerby the morning of the murder.
Caceres began the painstaking process of reviewing all recovered video and images in the area, and breaking them down into smaller sequences, until the suspicious passerby could be seen walking toward the Old Industrial area in Kona.
Caceres’ effort led to police identifying the murder suspect as Chito Asuncion who was later connected to an additional murder in June and two assaults in Hilo.
Asuncion was arrested on June 7, 2022, for two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of first-degree assault. Last month, the now 25-year-old pleaded guilty to the charges and is scheduled to appear for sentencing on Nov. 20 in 3rd Circuit Court.
“Officer Caceres is to be commended for his outstanding efforts in this murder investigation. His dogged determination and meticulous police skills led to the ‘big break’ that helped solve this case and enabled our officers to bring this suspect to justice,” said Police Chief Ben Moszkowicz. “I am extremely proud of Officer Caceres and the dedication he demonstrated in this investigation.”
Other nominees include Hawai’i Police Officer Eli Cayetano; Officer Conrad Iranon; Officer Elijah Won; Officer Dallas Arce; Officer Manuel Soares; Officer Alysa Gamache; Officer Jason Cunefare; Officer Kiley Loo; Officer Curry McFadden.
Caceres, originally from Hilo, received the award after winning Officer of the Month in December of last year.
Caceres said he was honored to receive the award.
“Just humbled,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to win. Everybody that was there was more than deserving. Just to get the recognition and be recognized for the work that officers do is big. It not only helps the officers but it motivates them to want to do their job more.”
He is now a control supervisor in Waimea, and has been working with the Hawai’i Police Department for 20 years to keep Hawai‘i Island safe.
“Protecting the island for everybody else. Making this island a safe place to live, conduct business, and visit. It’s stuff myself and all the other officers want to do, they want to be there. That’s why we chose this profession because we want to help and protect people,” he said.
Caceres is a 1997 graduate from Waiakea High School.
Present at the luncheon included Kona Crime Prevention Committee President Barbara Kossow, Sherry Bracken and Tommy “Kahikina” Ching, Managing Director Lee Lord, and Moszkowicz.
The Kona Crime Prevention Committee each month honors a police officer in West Hawai‘i as its Officer of the Month. Officers are nominated by their supervisors from the various police districts and a winner is selected by the committee’s board of directors.