A silent march for victims of domestic violence murders was held today in front of the Kamehameha Statue on Hilo’s Bayfront.
The event was organized by victim-witness counselors in the Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the Hawaii Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in response to the Brittany Jane Royal case officially being deemed a domestic violence murder.
Today’s event brought domestic violence advocates from around the state, and remembered victims of other domestic violence murders that have occurred here on this island. “You can’t tell a victim or an offender just by looking at them,” noted Assistant Prosecutor Jack Matsukawa, who worked on the Royal case. “It could be anyone that you know. Many factors including prior arguments could bring an upwelling of emotion and then violence occurs.”
At least 47 signs denoting other fatalities of domestic violence were by family members and supporters in commemoration of both men and women that had fallen victim to this problem that is worldwide and has spanned generations.
Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth stood alongside Matsukawa, and Royal family members, all donning leis and signs with peace symbols for the young woman. Royal was strangled to death by her 22-year-old boyfriend last May. Boaz Johnson’s body was found hanging in a tree in Kalapana in January. Near the tree police say Johnson left a composition notebook containing a three-page manifesto describing the crime he committed against Royal, who was in the first trimester of pregnancy, and what led him to commit the crime.
Irene Bender, a victim assistance counselor with the Hawai’i County Prosecutor’s Office, explained that here on this island demonstrations are primarily held in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. But the Oahu based Coalition Against Domestic Violence will hold a march anytime a case results in a fatality. A march such as this today is held on the Tuesday following the resolution of the homicide investigation, and one for Royal was held earlier this month on Oahu. But with Royal family members coming to Hawaii Island to set up a memorial in Kalapana, the Coalition and Prosecuting Attorney’s Office worked together to set up the march here.
The march for Royal and other domestic violence victims began with the reading of a poem entitled, “Remember My Name,” recited by Deborah Chai, a victim-witness counselor with the Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. She held a sign for Cathalene Ann Pacheco. Pacheco was murdered by her husband, a former Hawai’i County Police Detective, back in 2002. In the poem, the group of approximately 30 supporters were reminded that “love shouldn’t hurt.”
A former nurse described her memories of domestic slayings over the years, all the way back to the case of Dana Ireland, who was infamously raped and murdered on Christmas Eve in 1991. In the years since then, she recalls her experiences with battered men and women living with continued domestic abuse and noted, “Once a strong sense of self is taken in any relationship, the ability to get away is gone.”
Passing vehicles honked in support of the vigil and the victims remembered on the displayed signs. Some of the victims’ stories were known, others were unknown. Both men and women were represented, along with infants, children, older victims and young, like Hans Christian Randrup, a notable surfer, murdered by his father in 2008.
“There are so many (fatalities) over the years, they occur in clusters or sporadically,” said Chai, of the Prosecutor’s Office. “The lists of those murdered are lengthy, and those are only the cases that have been solved. Many people remain missing (from the list.)”
Others commemorated at the event included Pat Ahuna, Zachary Dutro-Boggess, Daniel Fox, Kaikela Medeiros-Dancel, Jolene Medeiros, Maris Wilkerson, Susan Brokert, Javieann Win, Cameron Mauga, Victoria Vickers, Rhonda Ahu, Elaine Ahu, Dawn Gambsky, Yvonne Martins, Iyanla Kuamo’o-Andrews and Catherine Dingle, among many others.
(Stephanie Shor is a University of Hawaii Hilo student who serves as news editor for the student newspaper, Ke Kalahea. An aspiring journalist, Shor is an intern with Big Island Chronicle.)