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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:54 a.m., Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Man found slain near trail arrested two days earlier

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

A homicide victim found near a Maui hiking trail over the weekend had been arrested two days earlier on suspicion of sexually assaulting a teenage girl, police said.

The victim was identified as 44-year-old Mark Wells, a homeless man who lived in an old sugarcane field near Lahaina with other homeless individuals, police said.

On Thursday, police arrested Wells on suspicion of providing alcohol to a teenager and sexually assaulting her. Police released him, but continued to investigate that case.

Detectives are still investigating the homicide.

The victim's body was found by hikers at 1 p.m. Saturday about 100 yards into a trail leading to a lava outcropping known as Olivine Pools. He had been dead approximately 12 to 36 hours.

An autopsy was conducted Sunday. Wells was shot six times.

Police described the victim as African American, 6 feet 1 and about 180 pounds. He was wearing denim shorts, a white T-shirt with the words "NFL Alumni Helping Maui's Kids" on the front and "Bruce Bosley Memorial Golf Classic" on the back, and brown shoes with brown and red shoelaces.

Wells was well-known to homeless services providers in the Lahaina area, said Victor Bellarosa, founder of Light Bringers, a non-profit Christian outreach organization.

Bellarosa said Wells would stop by once a week for clothing and hot meals.

Wells had been a regular at the outreach organization for a year and a half and stood out against the rest of the homeless because he was always clean-shaven and "slicker than most of them," Bellarosa said.

"I didn't know him that well but he was a quiet fellow," Bellarosa said. "He seemed sharp. He was from L.A. He never gave me any trouble."

He did not know that Wells had been arrested until police told him, Bellarosa said.

Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor Christie Wilson contributed to this report. Reach Mike Gordon at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8012.