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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, July 19, 2001

Murder secrets kept for 26 years

 •  Man's relatives insist he did not kill girl, 13

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

The affidavit tells a story of murder and enduring secrets.

Sheri MacArthur kept this police sketch of a suspect in her 13-year-old sister's murder on her refrigerator for decades.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

It started with an e-mail sent last year. A former Marine had information about a murder "that bothered him for the last 26 years."

It ended Saturday when another former Marine told police investigators that Delmar J. Edmonds had admitted killing a teenage girl in Kailua in March 1975.

Both Marines were stationed in Hawai'i along with Edmonds when 13-year-old Dawn "Dede" Bustamante was raped and murdered on a deserted road near the Pali Golf Course. They said nothing to police at the time and neither did at least three other Marines who suspected that Edmonds had done something wrong.

Edmonds was arrested Tuesday in Indiana after a warrant was issued here charging him with Bustamante's murder. He is being held on $500,000 bail while Honolulu authorities arrange for his extradition. An extradition hearing is scheduled for today in Indianapolis.

Edmonds's family members say he is innocent.

Edmonds had been a suspect just days after the March 14, 1975, murder, according to the affidavit by Honolulu police detective Larry Tamashiro to support the warrant for Edmonds' arrest.

Edmunds was interviewed twice by detectives in 1975 and took part in a police lineup, but he denied any involvement in the crime and was not charged.

Whistle blown by e-mail

Dawn "Dede" Bustamante was shot while fleeing.

Advertiser library photo

The break for Honolulu police came when an e-mail to the Honolulu police Crimestoppers unit sent investigators to Las Vegas to interview its sender, Michael Ryback, who told them he had information about the killing, the affidavit said.

Ryback told police he was with other Marines in their barracks in Kane'ohe the night of the killing when Edmonds arrived, according to the affidavit. If anyone asked, Ryback said Edmonds told them, they should say he had been at the barracks all night. Ryback told investigators he never said anything about it because he feared retaliation, the affidavit said.

His interview in May 2000 started a 14-month, cross-country investigation. Police interviewed former Marines who had served with Edmonds, pinning down details from friends and acquaintances who said the barracks had been full of rumors about Edmonds' possible connection to the Bustamante murder.

Investigators traveled to Las Vegas; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Albany, N.Y. — "good old-fashioned police work," Honolulu prosecutors say — before sitting down Saturday in Great Lakes, Ill., with former Marine Steve T. Parker.

Confessions made

Delmar J. Edmonds was arrested Tuesday in Indiana.


According to the affidavit, Parker said he was a good friend of Edmonds, who was also known as "Curly." One evening in March 1975, Edmonds, Parker and another Marine, Tyrone Vaughn, were drinking beer at Edmonds' apartment.

Edmonds left for a while, but returned "and appeared very upset," the affidavit stated. Parker told investigators that Edmonds then told his two friends that a girl "made me mad, so I shot her." He added that because she had stained his car with blood, he had to kill her.

When Edmonds drove both men back to the barracks at Kane'ohe, Parker saw women's clothing in the car. They concluded that Edmonds had killed Bustamante, that he was violent and that they would simply stay out of his way, the affidavit said.

Parker's testimony Saturday was enough for police, who arrested Edmonds Tuesday.

None of the men interviewed by police could be reached for comment yesterday.

Investigators also interviewed the only witness, Bustamante's 13-year-old friend, who also was kidnapped and beaten before she escaped.

The witness, who now lives in San Diego, gave them a stark account of the brutality that occurred, all of it included in the pages of the affidavit.

Witness tells her story

The witness and Bustamante had been waiting at 8 p.m. for a ride along Kalaheo Avenue when they were ordered at gunpoint into a white Plymouth Valiant. They were driven to a secluded area near the intersection of Kionaole and Auloa roads beneath the Pali Highway.

On the darkened road, the driver forced Bustamante into the back seat and raped her, according to the affidavit.

Afterward, the man ordered both girls out of the car, walked them to an overgrown area, then struck Bustamante on the back of the head with his gun.

Then he struck Bustamante's friend.

As she lay on the ground, he began choking her until he saw Bustamante get up and start running. His decision to chase the Bustamante gave her friend a chance to flee.

As she ran, the girl heard a gunshot.

The next day, according to the affidavit, the witness gave police detectives a good description of the assailant, a slim man with a military haircut. She identified his car as a white Valiant and said that he had a chrome gun with white handgrips. And he wore a yellow, floppy hat.

Three days after the murder, on the same day of the autopsy, police interviewed Edmonds. How he became a suspect isn't stated in the affidavit. He denied any involvement in the incident. He said he had been at a party in Lanikai. The affidavit does not say whether any other Marines were interviewed in 1975.

Police put Edmonds in a lineup, but Bustamante's friend said she was only 60 percent to 70 percent sure that he was the assailant. Investigators also showed her Edmonds' car, but she could not positively identify it, either.

According to the affidavit, Edmonds would only admit three things when he was arrested this week: He owned a silver, .38-caliber handgun with pearl grips, he once owned yellow floppy hat and he had been in the area the night of the murder.

Mike Gordon can be reached at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8012.