Hawaii’s Unsolved Murders: Who killed Bradley Bussewitz?

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HILO, Hawaii (KHON) – He was beaten to death and dumped in a remote area. For years, the victim was known to Hawaii Island Police only as “John Doe.” 

In 2003, a hunter came across the body of a badly beaten man near the 12 mile marker on Saddle Road in South Hilo. 

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The victim’s body was in a severe state of decomposition. Investigators ran his fingerprints in a statewide database. It did not yield a positive identification. 

“If you don’t know who the victim is, you don’t know who the suspect is,” said Lieutenant Rio Amon-Wilkins with the Hawaii Island Police Department. “There’s many challenges. You don’t really know which direction to go in. If you don’t know who your victim is, you don’t know how long he’s been here. You don’t know where he lived, who he hung out with, or where he hung out.”

The victim was dubbed “John Doe.” No one reported the man missing, and the case went cold. 

In 2016, investigators finally hit a breakthrough in the quest to solve the murder. 

Detective Derek Morimoto was assigned to the case. He learned the Criminal Justice Center in Honolulu was using new technology from the FBI: Next Generation Identification.

NGI is a database that can identify people through facial recognition, fingerprints, palm prints, or the iris of a person’s eyes. 

Morimoto sent the fingerprints to Honolulu.

To his relief, the results returned with a match. 

The victim’s name is Bradley Bussewitz, 47. He also went by the name Bradley Adair. 

In 2003, Bradley Bussewitz was found beaten to death. His body was dumped off the side of Saddle Road in South Hilo. Hawaii Island Police are still searching for the killer.

Morimoto contacted Bussewitz’s sister in Wisconsin to inform the family of Bradley’s death.

“All of a sudden, any hope of regaining that time, or that relationship was gone,” Pam Eklund tells KHON2. 

“It had been 13 years that he went unidentified,” she added. “No one knew that he had passed. That just made it all the more tragic.”

Eklund describes her brother’s lifestyle as nomadic. 

Bradley Bussewitz was born in Wisconsin. 

From 1988 to 1989, Bradley lived on the Big Island. He’s known to have lived in San Luis Obispo, California in 1996. 

Investigators also discovered he moved to Maui in May 2003 before returning to the Big Island. Bradley lived at various locations on the Big Island: Puna, South Hilo, Ka’u, North Kohala and Kona. 

“He would send (the family) letters,” she explained. “A lot of times, there wasn’t a return address where we could stay in touch with him. It wasn’t all that unusual for us to go several years without hearing from him.” 

Eklund says she would often try to find her brother. 

“As recently as 2014, we did a search of death records and did not find any for him,” Eklund said. “So to us, we hadn’t heard from him for so long. That was encouraging. We accepted his lifestyle. We were just hopeful that the environment he was in fit his unique personality.” 

Bradley loved music, said Eklund. He played the didgeridoo, a wind instrument associated with Indigenous Australian music. 

Bradley Bussewitz played the didgeradoo, a wind instrument from Australia.

“He was a poet, a pacifist, and a vegetarian,” said Eklund. “He was a lover of the earth. His dream was to own a small piece of land in Hawaii and be able to grow his own food and be self sufficient.”

Yet the question remains: Who killed Bradley Bussewitz? 

“I’m hoping by putting this case out there, someone would recognize him or remember him, and give us information to help solve the case,” said Morimoto. 

His family also wants to fill in the missing pieces of Bradley’s tragic death. 

“Who was his community?” said Eklund.  “What was he doing? Was he happy? Then, of course, the tragedy of the way that he was killed. We know nothing. It’s like he and his life disappeared without a trace. It’s so hard to understand.”

If you have information that can help Hawaii Island Police, email unsolvedhomicides@hawaiicounty.gov

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