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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 14, 2003

Lack of evidence makes solving cases difficult

 •  Missing man's wife still hopeful

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Staff Writer

The greatest difficulty for Honolulu police in solving a missing-person case is when they cannot determine the basis of the disappearance.

"With a regular crime scene, there may be a hint of evidence," investigator Phil Camero of HPD's Missing Persons Section said. "With a missing-person case, sometimes there is no crime scene."

Camero discussed several unsolved missing cases on O'ahu:

Simon Owen
• Simon Owen. A missing hiker from Texas, Owen was last seen on June 29, 1994 at Manoa Falls. Hundreds of volunteers searched in vain for the 21-year-old. Billionaire Ross Perot even aided financially in the search by paying for a private helicopter to look for Owen.

"This is my first case that I handled, so there's always been a personal connection to this one," Camero said. "I still keep in touch with his mom. He was working at a Waikiki restaurant here at the time he went hiking."

Police said Owen's disappearance appears to be a hiking accident and believe there was no foul play. Authorities found Owen's bicycle at the foot of the Manoa Falls trail. He was believed to be carrying a maroon backpack at the time; Camero hopes finding the bag will lead to Owens.

"During our investigation, we found that Simon liked to climb to the highest point of his destination," Camero said. "There may be a possibility that he may have fell, possibly in a deep valley pocket, making it difficult to find him."

Rick Calhau

Watson Mahaulu

In Chin McDonald
• Rick Calhau. Camero said Calhau disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Calhau was last seen on Nov. 18, 1996 at about 10:10 p.m. leaving his Kane'ohe home in his truck. He had informed his wife that he was going to visit friends in Kalihi and would return in an hour, police said.

His brown 1992 Ford pickup truck was found the next morning parked at the intersection of Koauka Street and Moanalua Road fronting "Our Savior Lutheran Church." Calhau was 29 when he disappeared.

• Watson K. Mahaulu. Mahaulu's disappearance was also under suspicious circumstances, Camero said. Mahaulu, 36, was last seen leaving the Wai'anae Boat Harbor area around noon on Nov. 30, 1997. He has not been seen or heard from since.

• In Chin McDonald. McDonald, 31, was last seen leaving her hostess job at the Club Chance bar at the Pearl Kai Shopping Center on Nov. 19, 1999 at about 10:30 p.m. McDonald failed to come home and her vehicle was left in the shopping center parking lot. The next day, McDonald's black handbag was found on the shoreline at the bike path near Neal Blaisdell Park.

Police suspect foul play. Camero said he doesn't believe McDonald disappeared on her own because she had been expecting the arrival of her two children from the Mainland for the holiday season.

• Victorio, Daniel and Neal Santiago. Sailor Victorio A. Santiago, 37, and his sons, Neal and Daniel, ages 11 and 7, were last seen leaving their Pearl Harbor home shortly before 1 a.m. July 12 last year. Santiago was driving a rented, light-green, four-door 2000 Daewoo Leganza with the license plate JGS-405.

Police believe the case may be "custodial interference," because there was "some kind of argument at the home" followed by Santiago taking the children, Camero said. "We're asking the public's help in finding the car, because once we find the vehicle, it will help us in which direction to take the investigation next," Camero said. "If the car was dumped someplace, it may be a strong hint that the family is off-island."

Anyone with information on any of these missing-person cases is asked to call HPD's Missing Persons Detail at 529-3394 or Criminal Investigation Division at 529-3115.

Victorio Santiago Neal Santiago Daniel Santiago