Police seek help with 2022 homicide case after finding decomposed body in Big Island residence

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Hawai‘i Island police are seeking the public’s help with a 2022 murder case that involves the discovery of a decomposing body following a report of a foul odor coming from a residence.

The department announced their renewed request for public information in a statement on Friday, June 7.

The body of James Paul Phelps, who was 47 at the time, was found on Lehau Street in Mountain View on Oct. 11, 2022.

The department said they went to the residence after a woman called in saying she had gone to check on the welfare of an acquaintance and reported smelling a foul odor coming from inside. She immediately contacted police, the department stated.


When responding officers entered, they discovered a decomposing body on the floor of the off-grid residence.

“On Friday, October 14, 2022, an autopsy was performed and the forensic pathologist concluded that the victim died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the head, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide,” the police said.

Area I Criminal Investigation Section detectives are continuing this investigation, which is classified as second-degree murder. The motive behind the killing remains under investigation.


Police ask anyone who may have information relative to this case to call Detective Kimo Keli’ipa’akaua, of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section, at (808) 961-2375, or email at or the police department’s non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls or subscribe to any Caller ID service. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

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