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Lisa Au homicide in Oahu, Hawaii nonetheless haunts Honolulu Police Department


Lisa Au had her entire life forward of her.

A 19-year-old hairdresser on the Susan Beers Salon in Kailua, a small city on the windward facet of the Oahu island in Hawaii, Au was “always a happy girl with big dreams” who went out of her method to assist individuals.

“Lisa was a beautiful girl and a very pleasant person to be around,” Roy Chang, a lawyer for the Au household, instructed The Every day Beast. “I never heard anything negative about it. She seemed like a very nice girl who had a bright future.”

However the teenager’s shiny future got here crashing down on Jan. 20. 1982, after she completed up work round 9 p.m. and headed to satisfy her boyfriend at his sister’s house half an hour away in Makiki. Police reviews state that she headed residence shortly after dinner amid a very heavy rain storm.

That was the final time Au was seen alive.

The Honolulu Police Department instructed The Every day Beast they first obtained reviews that {the teenager} was lacking that subsequent morning, when Au didn’t return residence or reply her household. Police say that Au’s mother and father referred to as her boyfriend, who went out to seek for her—and as a substitute discovered her 1976 Toyota parked on the facet of a Maunawili freeway and flooded with no less than 2 inches of water.

The harrowing discovery prompted a 10-day search and instantly instilled concern throughout the Honolulu neighborhood. 1000’s of flyers had been distributed throughout the island and lots of of volunteers looked for {the teenager}.

In the end, on Jan. 31, 1982, police say Au’s nude physique was present in a ravine off of Tantalus Drive about three miles from the house the place she was final seen. The invention turned a frantic lacking particular person’s case right into a murder case—that continues to be open 4 a long time later. Whereas authorities have by no means formally recognized or charged a person in Au’s homicide, the case has been marred by wrongful allegations a police officer could have been concerned and a civil lawsuit filed by {the teenager}’s household over the division’s inaction.

Much more heartbreaking is the fact that Au’s mother and father, Patrice and Chester Au, won’t ever know what occurred to their eldest daughter. Chang, who was employed by the household to assist “find answers and hold police accountable,” stated the couple was by no means the identical after their daughter died and by no means “found peace of mind” earlier than they handed.

“Unfortunately, there is no closure,” Chang stated. “They were looking for some answers and they were never answered. It’s sad knowing they will never know what happened to their daughter, even after they fought so hard for answers.”

However regardless of the previous errors within the case and the dearth of solutions, the Honolulu Police Department insists the case “is still considered an open investigation as there is no statute of limitations for homicide.”

Au’s household didn’t reply to a number of requests for touch upon this story.

Doug Holmes, Lisa Au’s boyfriend on the time of her disappearance.

Photograph Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Every day Beast/YouTube

The questions into what occurred to Au started nearly hours after she left her boyfriend’s sister’s house that wet January night time.

In accordance with police reports first obtained by Hawaii News Now, Au’s mother and father and roommate referred to as {the teenager}’s boyfriend, Doug Holmes, on Jan. 21 1982 after not listening to from their daughter. Holmes, a College of Hawaii pupil, instantly started to search for his girlfriend and retrace her final steps.

“[Holmes] told police he said goodnight to Au in her car and did not actually see her drive away,” a February 1982 Honolulu Star-Bulletin article reported, noting that it “was a stormy night and Au had called her roommate to tell her she was on her way home” however didn’t make it there. “Holmes went out looking for Au afraid that she may have gotten into a traffic accident.”

Throughout his search, Holmes discovered his girlfriend’s automobile—and instantly referred to as authorities. The police report notes that Holmes indicated there was about “two or three inches of water” on the ground of Au’s automobile and the motive force’s seat was utterly “drenched.” However the teenager’s purse, which had her pockets and keys however didn’t have her momentary license, was utterly dry on the motive force’s facet seat. (Holmes, who now lives in Australia, didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark for this story.)

“That was one of the first indications that something bad may have happened here,” Chang stated. “If she had had car trouble and got a ride with someone, why would she have left her purse? And why was her purse dry but everything else was soaking wet from the rain that night?”

The eccentricities in Au’s disappearance rapidly unfold all through Honolulu, and slews of volunteers got here out to help within the seek for the lacking teenager. A Jan. 30, 1982 article within the Honolulu Advertiser reported that 150,000 flyers had been distributed by seven Oahu highschool college students on Au’s behalf.

The determined search ended within the afternoon of Jan. 31, when a man jogging on Mount Tantalus with his dog came across a horrifying discovery: Au’s physique. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported on the time that Au, who was nude, was discovered about “40 feet down an embankment” and witnesses on the scene claimed she was “facedown in tall grass as if it had been dumped from the side of the road.”

Due to the superior state of decomposition, it might finally take the Honolulu health worker’s workplace a number of days to establish Au, noting to native shops on the time that it was “impossible to get fingerprints from the body” and that they finally had to make use of dental information. Native reviews additionally said that Au’s highschool class ring, which had her initials engraved in it and was on her hand when she was found, was essential for the identification.

The health worker’s workplace could never conclude Au’s cause of death, partially as a result of lack of forensic proof on the time and the state of the physique when it was discovered. The Honolulu health worker’s workplace didn’t reply to a request for remark.

The grisly discovery, nonetheless, did instantly pivot the frantic lacking particular person’s case right into a murder investigation—and started the rumor mill in Hawaii about who may probably be Au’s killer.

One concept was that Au’s boyfriend had one thing to do together with her dying. In an interview with police, Hawaii Information Now reported, Holmes even admitted he knew he was a suspect within the case—and failed two lie detector checks. When requested why he saved failing the checks, Holmes instructed police that he felt responsible for Au’s dying as a result of he let her drive alone that night time, though the climate was extreme.

Authorities later believed Holmes’ rationalization, noting that he had no motive to kill Au. Whereas Holmes didn’t reply to a request for remark, he and his household did inform Hawaii Information Now in 2019 that “Lisa and her memory deserve justice”

Lisa Au’s mother and father Patrice and Chester Au days after their daughter’s disappearance.

Photograph Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Every day Beast/YouTube

Bert Corniel was a lieutenant assigned to the Felony Investigations Division of the Honolulu Police Department when Au’s case was moved to his staff. In an interview with Hawaii Information Now, Corniel stated one concept that was posed to police was the concept an officer—or somebody posing as an officer—may have been concerned within the crime. One witness, in keeping with police reviews and local outlets at the time, said that the night time Au disappeared she noticed a automobile with blue lights within the grill following her automobile.

A February 1982 article within the Honolulu Star-Bulletin notes that the accusation induced such a mass panic in the neighborhood that the division was pressured to ban hidden blue lights on police vehicles—as a substitute choosing a “large blue light—either dome or bar style—on the roofs of police vehicles” to establish themselves. The article notes that after Au’s homicide, they obtained “a rash of reports by women claiming they were stopped by men posing as police officers by flashing blue lights otherwise hidden behind their car grills.”

Corniel, nonetheless, famous the mass panic over cops could have pushed the division to proceed with their investigation into one officer, and even convened a grand jury based mostly on their proof. However prosecutors had been unable to safe an indictment due to lack of proof.

“They had formulated premature conclusions,” Corniel instructed Hawaii Information Now. (Corniel didn’t reply to a request for remark.)

In the end, that officer filed a $20 million lawsuit towards a TV station, the previous Honolulu Police chief, and a detective for wrongfully figuring out him as a suspect. James Leavitt, who represented the officer in his 1984 lawsuit, instructed The Every day Beast that the case didn’t have a authorized conclusion.

“Our basis for the suit was invasion of privacy,” Leavitt added. “But it did not go very far. I think we ultimately came to our senses and realized it was going to be a tremendous battle.”

Round that point, Chang stated he was introduced on by Au’s mother and father after it grew to become clear to them that they wanted assist “to determine who the killer was.”

“They wanted answers and wanted to know the legal avenues they could take to get some,” Chang stated.

Amongst these avenues for solutions was a civil lawsuit towards the police division, arguing that two officers drove previous Au the night time she went lacking and that no motion was taken towards the officers who drove by her and did nothing. “To us, the police officers have a duty to assist motorists,” Chang stated. “Do not drive by and ignore it.”

In the end, nonetheless, the civil lawsuit additionally led to a useless finish on the Hawaii Supreme Courtroom, which sided with the Honolulu Police Department’s argument that it was not an officer’s responsibility to cease and render assist except there’s any indication a citizen is in misery.

“The end of our civil case was another shot in the gut for Lisa’s parents,” Chang stated. “They lost their daughter, the prosecution could not come up with the indictment, and then the Hawaii Supreme Court said we have no claim.”

Chang stated that after that remaining loss, his providers for the Au household weren’t lengthy wanted—however he nonetheless saved tabs on the case he stated may have been solved years in the past.

“It’s not shocking that this case has never been solved. All the key witnesses are now all gone so it makes it even harder,” he added. “We tried every avenue in our case and it failed. I just hope the police are still doing everything they can on their end so Lisa’s family can finally get some justice.”



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