Puna murder case now in the hands of prosecutors

  • KUHIA

Police have concluded their investigation of a murder that took place last year in upper Puna and forwarded the results to prosecutors for review.

The victim is 49-year-old Sean Nephi Kuhia of Mountain View. His body was discovered by a resident the morning of Aug. 17, 2020, on a remote, unpaved roadway near the intersection of Kahikopele Street and Ohia Avenue in the Eden Roc subdivision.

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Kuhia reportedly was last seen alive during the late evening hours the night before on Leila Road in Fern Forest.

An autopsy was performed on Aug. 18, 2020, and the forensic pathologist concluded that Kuhia died as a result of multiple blunt force injuries. The manner of death was ruled as homicide.

Police think Kuhia’s body was dumped in the remote location, and the killing took place elsewhere.

Police on Jan. 15 arrested 41-year-old Tony Lee Moorehead of Mountain View on suspicion of second-degree murder in connection to Kuhia’s death. After consulting with prosecutors, police released Moorehead pending further investigation and additional forensic testing.

“He’s still a suspect,” Lt. Rio Amon-Wilkins of the Hilo Criminal Investigations Section said Thursday.

According to police, investigators conducted what was described in a statement as “countless interviews and follow-ups,” and sent items of evidence to a laboratory for forensic testing. This ultimately led to the identification of potential suspects in this case.

Asked if there are other suspects, and if police think more than one individual was involved in Kuhia’s killing, Amon-Wilkins replied, “Yes.”

He declined to identify any other suspects and added a motive for the killing is “still unclear at this point.”

At the time of his death, Kuhia was free on court-supervised release without monetary bail and awaiting sentencing for violating his probation for a pair of burglary convictions.

Amon-Wilkins said there’s “no evidence … at this point” that Kuhia’s criminal history was a motive for the homicide.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Amon-Wilkins at 961-2252 or email him at Rio.Amon-Wilkins@hawaiicounty.gov.

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Those who prefer to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

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

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