Police arrest Volcano man in year-old murder case

  • This photo of homicide victim Andrew Cawley was supplied by the Hawaii Police Department when he was reported missing on Dec. 30, 2020.

Police have arrested a 60-year-old Volcano man on suspicion of second-degree murder in the case of a 34-year-old man whose body was found Jan. 5 buried in a shallow grave in upper Puna.

According to a police log, Donald John Needham was arrested at 11:35 a.m. Monday. He had not been charged as of 3 p.m. today.

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The victim was identified by police as Andrew Cawley. The identification of Cawley’s body was made through dental records due to the advanced state of composition. Cawley was last seen at a friend’s house on Dec. 23, 2020, and he was reported missing by his father on Dec. 30.

Lt. Rio Amon-Wilkins of the Hilo Criminal Investigations Section said they expect to charge Needham with Cawley’s murder sometime today.

Amon-Wilkins said the cause of Cawley’s death was a gunshot wound and declined to provide a motive for the homicide.

When asked what led to Needham’s death, Amon-Wilkins replied, “A yearlong investigation.”

Court records indicate neither Needham nor Cawley have prior criminal convictions in Hawaii.

A search of the Judiciary website for Needham shows a petition for a temporary restraining order filed against Cawley by “Patricia Needham, et al.”

An attempt to view paperwork associated with the TRO petition produced a pop-up window that read, “The case you are attempting to view is confidential and not public record at this time.”

Amon-Wilkins said he doesn’t think the TRO was granted. Asked if the allegations contained in the TRO petition had was a motive for Cawley’s slaying, Amon-Wilkins answered, “No.”

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

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