HAWAII POLICE DEPARTMENT
CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS SECTION, AREA II
ACTING LIEUTENANT LLEWELLYN FUKUI
PHONE: 326-4646, EXT. 304
JULY 17, 2006
REPORT NO. C06021898
MEDIA RELEASE UPDATE NO.2
On Monday afternoon, at approximately >4:00 p.m.> Hawaii police officers located and arrested Vernon Costa, a 41-year-old Puna resident, for one count of murder in the first degree, two counts of murder in the second degree and one count of attempted murder in the second degree. Costa was found in the bushes in a heavily wooded area of Eden Roc, a remote subdivision in Puna.
Detectives had determined that Costa was the operator of a silver 1998 Dodge Dakota pickup truck that was involved in a collision early Sunday morning (July 16, 2006) that resulted in the deaths of two >>Hilo>> women, Pua Lei Santa-Isabel, 26, and Casey Ann Swain, 35. Both women had been occupants in a 1987 Honda that had reportedly been hit and forced off Route 190 near the Kona and >South Kohala> boundary by the truck Costa was operating. A 19-year-old >Hilo> woman, also a passenger in the Honda, was transported to >>North> >Hawaii> >Hospital>> and treated for her injuries.
Detectives have learned that Costa and the 19-year-old woman had a prior relationship that ended about six months ago. Police have confirmed that there was a history of abuse in the relationship and that there had been a temporary restraining order, which had expired, filed.
Police initially classified the deaths as negligent homicides and the injury as a negligent injury. Investigation has determined that the collision that caused the deaths was intentional, thus changing the classification to murder. Because two deaths occurred in the single incident, Costa was also arrested for murder in the first degree.
Detectives from the Kona Criminal Investigation Division are continuing the investigation. Costa remains in police custody pending completion of the investigation and a charging decision.
Police ask anyone with information about this case to call Detective Mark Haggerty at 326-4646, ext. 277 or the non-emergency telephone number at 935-3311.
Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in >>Hilo>> or 329-8181 in Kona. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.
The double fatality brings this year’s total to 20, compared with 19 at this time last year.
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