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Hunt For Murderer Conducted Near And In Park

Haleakala National Park

National Park News

On October 20th, Maui PD notified the park that a murder had taken place in the Kaupo area two days before and that the suspect, a 39-year-old "survivalist", was still on the loose. The area where the homicide took place is approximately two miles from the park's boundary and is surrounded on three sides by park land. Rangers immediately launched a helicopter and two law enforcement rangers checked the five cabins in the crater area to make sure the fugitive was not using them. Backcountry visitors were also interviewed, park crews evacuated, and trails closed. The National Park Service's Investigative Services Branch (ISB) provided a special agent to assist with interagency liaison. SA Neil Akana was also able to obtain the assistance of a DEA helicopter for the search, which also involved Maui PD, Honolulu PD, and NPS units.  Ranger Peter Reitchel spent three days on board the DEA helicopter coordinating ground search operations and acting as an airborne medic. Maui PD suspended its search on Friday, October 23rd. Two Hawaii Volcanoes rangers and an ISB agent flew to Maui the following week and assisted rangers with checking and clearing the 14 remote staff camps the park maintains.  A helicopter was used to insert the teams, who then cleared each camp and documented its current condition in order to better detect if they were being used by the fugitive for shelter, food or water.  Haleakala resource management staff acted as helicopter managers and airborne observers.  On November 7th, in response to a visitor report, an overnight surveillance operation was conducted in the park's backcountry. Nothing suspicious was observed. The park's backcountry is currently open, and staff and visitors are being reminded to remain vigilant.


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