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Police fielding new leads on murder victim

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

LAST UPDATED: 10:20 a.m. HST, Jul 30, 2011

Honolulu police detectives received "20-plus" calls in the day or so after the release of photos of a clay likeness based on the skull of a man murdered about 30 years ago and buried in a Manoa Valley yard.

Only one of the calls came from out of state, and some came from the neighbor islands, said Sgt. Kim Buffett, Honolulu CrimeStoppers coordinator.

"There were a lot of names thrown out there, so the detectives are working on calling these people back and finding further information," she said.

Homicide detectives are looking into each of the leads, Buffett said, and she encouraged the public to call in tips. The CrimeStoppers line is 955-8300.

The skeletal remains of the man were found in October by construction workers who first unearthed a sock that contained what appeared to be a human foot and leg bones while digging in the backyard of a Manoa residence.

An excavation later revealed a body, partially under a concrete slab, with three gunshot wounds in the head.

Various clues point to the body being nearly 3 decades old. The man's remains were the only ones found on the site, police said.

After months of dead ends, police decided to attempt to reconstruct the victim's skull and face and ask the public for help in identifying him.

It is only the fourth time that Honolulu police have created a replica of a missing person and the first involving a murder victim.

The skull, which was partially damaged by the bullet wounds, was reconstructed by the military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command. A copy was sent to the police Scientific Investigation Section, which used clay to put a face on it.

Police believe the man died no earlier than 1982 because a coin in his pocket was from that year. He appeared to be in his 40s or 50s, and was 5 feet 6 inches to 6 feet tall. He was wearing Levi Panatela pants, a dark polo shirt and white tube socks with blue trim.

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