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

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

 •  Murder secrets kept for 26 years

By David Waite and Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writers

Relatives of a man accused of killing a 13-year-old Kailua girl while he was stationed here in the Marine Corps 26 years ago rallied to his defense yesterday, insisting police arrested an innocent man.

Neil Bustamante, father of Dawn Bustamante, who was 13 when she was murdered in Kailua in 1975, is vice president of golf operations at the Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island.

Blake Cousins • Special to The Advertiser

An extradition hearing is scheduled today in an Indiana courtroom to see whether Delmar Edmonds will be ordered to return to Hawai'i to face a single count of murder in the shooting death of Dawn "Dede" Bustamante whose body was found in an area behind the Pali Golf course March 14, 1975.

Edmonds, 46, was arrested at his home Tuesday morning in Indianapolis and is being held on $500,000 bail at the Marion Indiana County Jail while awaiting the extradition hearing.

A woman reached at Edmonds' home yesterday, who identified herself as his wife, said she believes law enforcement officials "got the wrong person."

"My heart goes out to the family in Hawai'i of the girl that was killed, but my husband is innocent. He is a good man," said the woman, who declined to give her name or say how long she has been married to Edmonds.

"I'm not in a position to provide any other information other than to say I support him 100 percent," the woman said.

Investigators from the Honolulu Police Department and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service coordinated with the Indiana State Police to serve an arrest warrant on Edmonds at his home.

Bruce Warshawsky, special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Unit, is among the law enforcement officials who traveled to Indiana to make the arrest.

Warshawsky declined to say whether DNA technology not available at the time of the crime will be significant in the investigation, but the court documents indicate semen was recovered from the body of the young victim.

Sheri MacArthur keeps a locket with both her picture, left, and that of her murdered sister, taken in the 1970s.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

According to a police affidavit supporting the arrest warrant, Edmonds raped Bustamante before he shot her.

After Warshawsky was contacted by Honolulu detectives last year to begin the investigation afresh, new interviews were conducted, he said.

"Over that many years, relationships change, and some people who were his friends don't care about (Edmonds) so much now," he said.

Through jail officials, Edmonds declined to be interviewed.

However, a young man who answered the telephone at his home and said he was Edmonds' son insisted Edmonds is innocent.

"He had nothing to do with this," said the man, who would not give his name.

He said Edmonds, a truck driver, has been a church deacon for 2 1/2 years and has no criminal past.

Indianapolis law enforcement records indicate no police contact with Edmonds.

Warshawsky said Edmonds is believed to have lived in Indianapolis since he left the Marine Corps in July 1975.

Meanwhile, Sheri MacArthur, Bustamante's younger sister, yesterday said she was shocked to see Edmonds on television after his arrest Tuesday.

MacArthur, who kept a sketch of the suspect on her refrigerator for 18 years, said her first thought was how much she hated the man.

"I found the sketch and, my goodness what a resemblance, just 26 years older," the Kailua resident said. "I just stared at him."

MacArthur, 38, said she doesn't know how she'll feel when Edmonds makes his first appearance in court here.

"I used to think about it, and now I realize there's nothing he could say to me that would change how I feel or what happened," she said. "I don't know if I would say anything to him, but I would definitely look at his face."

Dawn's father, Neil Bustamante, credited federal authorities and Honolulu Police with their hard work that led to the arrest. But he said his two daughters, Sheri and Christie, made it their lifetime mission to find their sister's killer.

"My daughters are the ones who pursued this to a great degree," said Bustamante, vice president of golf operations at Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island. "If credit is due for any type of follow-up, it was a goal that they had set for themselves as children."

The Indianapolis Star contributed to this report. You can reach David Waite at 525-8030 or dwaite@honoluluadvertiser.com.