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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 22, 2010

Murder suspect has date in court

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Jason Lee McCormick

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A man charged in a 1996 "cold case" homicide, Jason Lee McCormick, is scheduled to appear in court next week on an unresolved 2008 misdemeanor theft case.

McCormick, 36, was indicted Thursday on a second-degree murder charge related to the July 1996 asphyxiation death of visiting University of Pittsburgh professor Robert Henderson.

McCormick was convicted in a September 2008 fourth-degree theft case but did not pay $110 in court fines and fees and was to have appeared in District Court yesterday on that matter, according to Jim Fulton, executive assistant in the Honolulu prosecutor's office.

That court appearance was taken off the calendar and is now set for Friday, Fulton said.

State traffic court records also indicate that McCormick has an unresolved 2004 charge pending against him for leaving the scene of a vehicular accident that involved property damage. When McCormick failed to appear in court in that case in April 2004, a penal summons was issued but was apparently never served.

Prosecutors said Thursday that McCormick killed Henderson in July 1996 and confessed to the homicide "years later."

He is being held on the second-degree murder charge in lieu of $500,000 bail.

A professor of linguistics, Henderson was in Honolulu to attend a symposium at the University of Hawai'i-Mānoa and was last seen leaving the campus July 12, 1996.

His decomposing body was found in his Ilikai Hotel apartment five days later. Police said at the time that writing scrawled on the body indicated that the killer thought Henderson molested children.

The victim's brother, Michael Henderson, traveled to Hawai'i several times seeking the public's help in solving the crime.

Michael Henderson has rejected the suggestion that his brother was a pedophile and has said he believed the motive was robbery.

"We can't find two of his jeweled watches that we think he took with him on his trip," he said in 1996. "We also can't account for a money clip he always carried with him."

Michael Henderson said in a statement Thursday that the family "is relieved to learn that a suspect in this crime has been apprehended," adding that Robert Henderson "achieved so much during his short 51 years and would have contributed so much more if his life hadn't ended so senselessly."

Deputy Prosecutor Victoria Kapp said Thursday that McCormick "is unemployed and has no local address. He also has family on the Mainland and poses a possible flight risk because of that."

An arraignment date in the murder case has not yet been scheduled.