CA arrest gives renewed hope in solving Hawaii’s decades-old cold cases

After searching for more than 40 years, authorities in California arrested an ex-cop, whom they believe is the “Golden State Killer.”

Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was taken into custody on Tuesday night in the Sacramento suburb of Cirtus Heights.

Authorities believe he killed a dozen people and raped dozens of women in California decades ago. He worked quietly for years in a supermarket warehouse before retiring last year.

With that arrest, perhaps there’s hope that some of Hawaii’s decades-old cold case murders will also get solved.

One of the biggest unsolved mysteries for Hawaii is the murder of Diane Suzuki.

She was last seen on July 6th, 1985 at the Rosalie Woodson Dance Academy in Aiea, where she was a teacher.

Police never found her body and the prime suspect was never charged.

“Personally I feel we’ve collected as much evidence as we could possibly have done in the Diane Suzuki case,” said Gary Dias, a retired HPD homicide lieutenant.

He thinks police should take another look at the case using new technology.

“Perhaps the technology with DNA can examine that same blood evidence and run through the decontamination processes that might have occurred over time,” Dias said. 

Three years before Suzuki disappeared, another young woman, Lisa Au, also went missing.

She was last seen alive on January 21st, 1982. She went to her boyfriend’s sister’s apartment in Makiki for dinner.

Her car was found abandoned in Kailua, and ten days after she disappeared, her naked and decomposing body was found in the brush on Tantalus in Makiki.

No one was ever charged with Au’s murder.

“Her body was decomposed to the point where it was not possible to identify the cause of death. So to this day we don’t know how Lisa died,” Dias said.

Also in the 1980s, five other women were murdered on Oahu. Police believe it was the work of a serial killer.

All of the victims were between 17 and 36 years old. A suspect was arrested, but was never charged, and has since passed away.

“I really would prefer DNA testing because if the guy is innocent then he’s innocent you know,” said Omar Sakamoto, brother of victim Regina Sakamoto.

There’s no statute of limitations on murder, so the cases are still open. But police say it usually takes new information or witnesses coming forward for them to start actively investigating them again.

If you have any information that can help solve a cold case, call 911 or CrimeStoppers at (808) 955-8300.