Police charge Aloha Estates man with shooting death of neighbor

  • Police provided this photo of homicide victim Andrew Cawley when he was reported missing on Dec. 30, 2020. Cawley was last seen alive on Dec. 23.

  • NEEDHAM

A 60-year-old Aloha Estates man has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder for the shooting death of his neighbor.

Donald John Needham is accused of slaying of 34-year-old Andrew Cawley, whose body was found Jan. 5 in a shallow grave on Cawley’s Aloha Estates property.

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Cawley initially was reported as a missing person on Dec. 28, 2020, after family and friends reported not seeing or hearing from him in several days.

According to police, an autopsy found Cawley died of a gunshot wound to the torso, and his remains appeared to have buried for more than a week.

According to a police log, Needham was arrested at 11:35 a.m. Monday. Police announced shortly before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday that Needham had been charged with Cawley’s murder.

Asked what led to Needham’s arrest, police Lt. Rio Amon-Wilkins of the Hilo Criminal Investigations Section replied, “A yearlong investigation.”

Amon-Wilkins declined to provide a motive for the homicide, saying it’s “under 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.” The Tribune-Herald has learned that Patricia Needham is Donald Needham’s wife.

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 contained a motive for Cawley’s slaying, Amon-Wilkins answered, “No.”

The Tribune-Herald left a message for Patricia Needham, but she didn’t respond in time for this story.

Donald Needham remains in police custody in lieu of $1 million bail and is expected to make his initial appearance today in Hilo District Court.

Anyone who may have information relative to this investigation is asked to call the police department’s nonemergency number at (808) 935-3311 or contact Detective Jeremy Kubojiri of the Hilo Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2378 or email jeremy.kubojiri@hawaiicounty.gov.

Those who prefer anonymity can call Crime Stoppers at (808) 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers does not record any calls or subscribe to caller ID, according to police.

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