Puna stabbing suspect a former Army sergeant

  • Facebook photo of Malcolm Keith Utecht, 30, of Northern California.

A 30-year-old man police believe stabbed an elderly man to death with a cane Tuesday evening in upper Puna is a former Army sergeant from Northern California.

According to his Facebook page, Malcolm Keith Utecht, is from Red Bluff, Calif. The social media page said Utecht studied business at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore., and also attended Linn-Benton Community College in Albany, Ore., and Shasta College, a community college in Redding, Calif.

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Utecht was taken into custody shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday on suspicion of second-degree murder.

Police responded to several calls on Palainui Avenue in Eden Roc subdivision.

The first calls complained of a naked man and later calls reported the naked man was blocking traffic, police said Wednesday.

Officers found the man, still unclothed, standing over the unresponsive victim, a man in his 70s who lived nearby, according to Hilo Investigations Section Lt. Rio Amon-Wilkins. Amon-Wilkins said officers recovered a cane, believed to be the weapon used in the alleged offense.

The victim was taken by ambulance to Hilo Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 11:20 p.m.

Police are withholding the victim’s name pending results of an autopsy scheduled for today and notification of next of kin.

In a written statement, police originally said Utecht is a Hilo resident, but according to Amon-Wilkins, Utecht also lives in the Eden Roc area.

“We later found that out,” Amon-Wilkins said.

Asked if there is any indication Utecht and the victim knew each other, Amon-Wilkins replied, “None at all.”

Police have until 7:11 p.m. today to charge Utecht or must, by law, release him from custody pending further investigation.

It’s unclear how long Utecht has been in Hawaii or on the Big Island. Hawaii court records show only traffic infractions, including $367 still due on a Nov. 8 citation for use of a mobile electronic device while driving and for not having a current safety check on a vehicle. He also missed a court date Tuesday for driving without insurance, for which he was also cited on Nov. 8.

A Feb. 20, 2009, story in the Times-Standard daily newspaper of Eureka, Calif., said Utecht, then 19, and three others, all of Red Bluff, were arrested Feb. 18 that year and booked by the Tehama County Sheriff’s Department on charges of criminal conspiracy and burglary in connection with the theft of about 100 pounds of uncrushed recyclable aluminum cans and two chains from the Tehama County landfill.

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The Tribune-Herald was unable to find a follow-up to that story.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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