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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 9, 2004

Woman's surfboard found

By Curtis Lum and Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Staff Writers

The surfboard belonging to missing woman Courtney Marcher has been recovered by police, and investigators believe Marcher may have run into trouble in the water and was not the victim of foul play.

Evidence specialist Leslie Ann Murakami yesterday examined a surfboard found near Ka'ena Point believed to be Courtney Marcher's.

Rebecca Breyer • The Honolulu Advertiser

Marcher, 22, was last seen Sunday after surfing at Velzeyland on the North Shore. Family members said Marcher was a strong swimmer and in good shape, and they feared she may have been abducted.

But with the discovery of Marcher's 6-foot surfboard three miles off Ka'ena Point Wednesday morning, police now believe she got into trouble in the ocean. Ka'ena Point is about 18 miles from Velzeyland.

Her board was found by two fishermen and turned over to police yesterday.

The board was in good condition, but a leash to attach the surfer to the board was severed and had unusual markings. Missing Persons Detail Officer Phil Camero said it is unclear what caused the leash to break.

"At this point we do know that she was in the water and there's a strong possibility that she did receive some trouble in the water," Camero said. "We have no evidence of foul play and the investigation does not lead in that direction at this time."

He added that Marcher was taking medication to control epilepsy, which she suffered, and had not had a seizure recently.

Police asked state Shark Task Force member Randy Honebrink to look at the leash, but Camero said the examination was inconclusive. Honebrink last night declined to comment.

Missing surfer

Courtney Marcher, 5 feet 7 and 160 pounds, has blond hair and green eyes. Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call Honolulu Police Department investigator Phil Camero at 529-3394.

"We had it examined and we'll continue to have it examined further before we make any final determination or analysis as far as how the leash was severed," Camero said.

Courtney's half sister Michelle McHugh said the discovery of the surfboard was not good news and confirmed a gut feeling she's had from the beginning. But she said her mother remains hopeful and is convinced that an attacker put the board in the water as a diversion.

"We're all beginning to lose hope but my mom is trying to stay really strong," McHugh said. "She's doing a good job, but. ..."

McHugh, 27, didn't know many details about the board's recovery but said she was surprised it didn't come to shore. Experts have said the location of the board is consistent with currents along the North Shore, Camero said.

Every new piece of information has set the family on an emotional roller coaster, McHugh said.

"We're all really struggling with this," McHugh said. "It's been a tortuous few days. Just every imaginable emotion. Just hope and no hope. It's crazy."

McHugh said she hopes something positive develops from the ordeal.

"Maybe there's a lesson to learn from all this," she said. "Maybe there's some precaution that can be taken in the future."

Yesterday the fire department searched the Velzeyland waters again for about three hours at the request of the police, said Capt. Kenison Tejada, spokesman for the Honolulu Fire Department

Reach Curtis Lum at 525-8025 or culum@honoluluadvertiser.com, and Eloise Aguiar at 234-5266 or eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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