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Police arrest 41-year-old man in Punahou Street murder

By Michael Tsai

LAST UPDATED: 10:05 a.m. HST, Jul 28, 2013

Police have arrested a 41-year-old man in connection with the murder of a Honolulu real estate broker and aspiring actress.

He was identified today as Vernon Baker, who has no local address. No charges had been filed as of this evening.

The body of Mary Beth San Juan, 56, was found bound, gagged and wrapped in a rug, lying in the driveway of San Juan’s of 1224 Punahou St. residence Tuesday night by her ex-husband.

Baker, described as an acquaintance of San Juan's, was arrested at Ala Moana Center shortly after 2:30 p.m. today, according to Maj. Richard Robinson on the Honolulu Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division.

Robinson said tips from the public aided police in identifying the suspect and in recovering San Juan’s wallet from a dumpster on Lemon Street in Waikiki. Robinson said the suspect is believed to have resided in Waikiki.

Following his arrest, the suspect was transported to an area hospital for treatment of “minor unrelated injuries,” according to HPD spokesperson Michelle Yu.

The Medical Examiner’s Office said San Juan was stabbed multiple times.

Robinson said the suspect matched the general description of a person caught on video surveillance using San Juan’s ATM card at the First Hawaiian Bank at Manoa Marketplace.

The case has been classified as a second-degree murder.

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1local wrote:
good job HPD... hopefully the judiciary can do their job...
on July 27,2013 | 04:13PM
allie wrote:
As I predicted. It was a man and an acquaintance. You always have to look at the FBI profile on this type of case. It almost never fails.
on July 27,2013 | 05:07PM
DAGR81 wrote:
Your ignorance is undeniable...and your arrogance is disgusting...go away already.
on July 27,2013 | 05:17PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Allie, as always, doesn't stop and think if she said anything, or what she said about a certain subject previously. When she makes things up, she doesn't think it's a lie.
on July 28,2013 | 11:13AM
joshislost wrote:
YOUR A LIAR. Youre the very one that said its a womans figure in the ATM video now you switching sides why dont you do us all a favor and croak
on July 27,2013 | 05:51PM
honokai wrote:
aliie called it right
on July 27,2013 | 06:38PM
yrusodz wrote:
really honok-allie? You were saying it was a woman. All-lies never gets it right. That is a long established fact.
on July 27,2013 | 09:37PM
jimmyhouse67 wrote:
Actually I worked for the FBI and the profile is just that, a possible profile. To say that it almost never fails is not a fact. It allows law enforcement a possible idea of what they may be looking for but at best the accuracy rate falls somewhere between 50% - 60%. This is a fact. Check your sources, mine is from firsthand experience and knowledge.
on July 27,2013 | 06:45PM
Slow wrote:
oh allie you are so smart! Yikws!
on July 27,2013 | 07:27PM
gobows wrote:
you watch too much tv.
on July 27,2013 | 07:35PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
But Allie your prediction that Chief Kealohs and HPD is incompetent was wrong,again.
on July 27,2013 | 08:26PM
Grimbold wrote:
And most of us commentators suspected the husband has something to do with it.
on July 27,2013 | 11:01PM
Leonhi10 wrote:
WHEN WILL DETAILS OF POLICE NEWS CONFERENCE (HELD @ 4P TODay) be released? It's now 4:15P - I'm watching your 'Police/Fire' section - is that where it will appear?
on July 27,2013 | 04:17PM
agile wrote:
I called Ch9 (HI News Now) since they were first w/the arrest and they said HPD won't allow broadcast of conference. But you can bet it will be the #1 story on all channels on 5pm news. It will be interesting to see if it really was a man in woman's clothing too.
on July 27,2013 | 04:32PM
Leonhi10 wrote:
agile: Thanks, I'll be watching .... Leon
on July 27,2013 | 04:49PM
palani wrote:
Wow, amazing police work. Good works, guys! I'm still trying to figure out why they thought the person caught on the ATM video wearing high heels was a man.
on July 27,2013 | 04:17PM
sarahm808 wrote:
So much for all the criticism that HPD is inept. Let's now see how this will stick. Reports have indicated that the suspect was caught with some of the victim's items.
on July 27,2013 | 04:42PM
allie wrote:
yup..HPD did a nice job on this. The guy was none too smart and, I take it, was easily traced.
on July 27,2013 | 05:08PM
DAGR81 wrote:
Why complement someone then blow them off in the next sentence.?
on July 27,2013 | 06:07PM
Surfer_Dude wrote:
Well, HPD did drop,the ball when they arrested that guy for murdering the prostitute in Waikiki. He was caught trying to sell some of her stuff on eBay, but they released him the next day for "lack of evidence". NCIS got involved and rearrested him. At the time of that guys arrest, all the comments were cheering HPD and look what happened. I hope this time HPD got their man and we are all a little bit safer.
on July 27,2013 | 05:48PM
jimmyhouse67 wrote:
When a suspect is released due to lack of evidence it is not HPD's call. They make the arrest on the information that they gather but it is the advice of the district attorney that determines if the suspect is to be released due to "lack of evidence". Don't blame HPD or any police force when a prisoner is released, they've done their job by getting the arrest.
on July 27,2013 | 06:48PM
808comp wrote:
Right on! If this is the guy lock him up with no bail.The problem is the taxpayers will have to care for this creep.HPD must have had a good tip.
on July 27,2013 | 04:52PM
Compassionate_Cat wrote:
Thank God they have a suspect! Mary Beth was one of the nicest women I have ever known in the Real Estate industry. I am glad that I had the privilege of knowing her just when she was getting started in her real estate career. She was always very thoughtful and friendly and warm with people. She was 100% real and I am shocked that this could have happened. I really fear that real estate is no longer a safe career these days to do individually. I really think we should always work in teams for safety reasons. Rest in Peace and God Be With You
on July 27,2013 | 05:08PM
mikethenovice wrote:
I once knew a person who was killed in auto accident. What a weird feeling knowing that you talked to that person, and the next day he or she is gone. Can't get over that feeling.
on July 27,2013 | 06:06PM
cojef wrote:
Very poor cross-dresser as the video showed his awkwardness. He purposely showed the braclet and shoes to mislead the police. Must have been a good tip and statistics are vindicated that most killers would be someone the victim knew or close family member. Good police work for a change. That was pretty quick.
on July 27,2013 | 05:25PM
agile wrote:
HI News Now just released video of him entering cellblock. Tall, slim haole w/glasses.
on July 27,2013 | 05:25PM
tiki886 wrote:
If he was an "acquaintance", it is likely it was premeditated and should be 1st degree murder, not 2nd degree.
on July 27,2013 | 05:32PM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
1st degree murder is causing the death of more than one person......
on July 27,2013 | 06:43PM
Slow wrote:
Wrong. First degree murder is willful and premeditated. Can be one victim.
on July 27,2013 | 07:32PM
mdg1775 wrote:
Wrong. First degree murder is the murder of more than one person, a police officer, a judge, a witness, a person protected by a restraining order, or a murder by a hired killer. Premeditated murder of one person not meeting those criteria is murder second.
on July 27,2013 | 09:22PM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
Here is the link to the Hawaii Revised Statues 707-701......http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/vol14_Ch0701-0853/HRS0707/HRS_0707-0701.htm which covers murder in the 1st degree......
on July 27,2013 | 10:17PM
Russmari wrote:
Wow great police work !!!! Good job HPD!!!!
on July 27,2013 | 05:40PM
Surfer_Dude wrote:
Remember a couple of months ago, HPD arrested a guy suspected in killing that prostitute in Waikiki, only to let him go the next day for lack of evidence. NCIS had to pick up the ball a month later and nail the guy again. Lets hope HPD this time has a stronger case.
on July 27,2013 | 05:40PM
mikethenovice wrote:
The forensic is so strong here, it is written all over his face. A body that is wrapped up, is from someone who once knows and cares for that person.
on July 27,2013 | 06:04PM
sloturle wrote:
"Robinson said the suspect matched the general description of a person caught on video surveillance using San Juan’s ATM card at the First Hawaiian Bank at Manoa Marketplace." So he looks like a female then.
on July 27,2013 | 06:18PM
Skyler wrote:
on July 27,2013 | 07:45PM
whatzupwitdat wrote:
Actually the PUBLIC helped solve this case; the police just followed the clues. Hopefully justice will be served now. Suspect looks much taller on the news clip than in the surveillance video at FHB ATM. Kudos to KGMB news for being the first to report the breaking news!!
on July 27,2013 | 06:22PM
agile wrote:
KHON was first to report the name, Vernon Baker on their 6pm news. I'm surprised HPD got him but more surprised Advertiser is actually working a breaking news piece on a Sat. night. And I'll be stupefied if SA has it in tomorrow's Sunday paper.
on July 27,2013 | 06:50PM
kelbells34 wrote:
I was thinking he was too tall to fit the description too...Plus, the heels. At least 1 to 2 inches more. The guy did look kind of OFF tho. He didn't take his meds or something. Vernon Lux Baker. The KILLER? Acted alone?
on July 27,2013 | 08:05PM
Forever_Grateful wrote:
This was so senseless - I am so glad they have caught a suspect!
on July 27,2013 | 06:27PM
Peacenik wrote:
Is 2nd degree murder less severe than 1st degree? Seems about as heinous as it could get.
on July 27,2013 | 07:22PM
MoiliiliBoy wrote:
Generally murder 1 (in Hawaii law) is when more than one person is killed at the same time (Xerox shooting), or a judge, cop is killed in the line of duty (can have attempted mur 1, like the Stangel case, when he shot at cops on the freeway), or a witness is killed, or you hire someone to kill someone else or as an inmate, you kill someone. Mur 2 involves an intentional act, not necessarily "premeditated or planned", but the the a likely outcome of the act (shooting, stabbing).
on July 28,2013 | 12:50AM
Slow wrote:
Good fast work by the HPD.
on July 27,2013 | 07:34PM
Skyler wrote:
Great job, HPD. Hope everyone else does their jobs well. How about $5 mil. in bail? We don't need no stinkin' murderers running loose - got that?
on July 27,2013 | 07:46PM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Good job HPD and to public who helped. The homeless person who found her wallet in a garbage bin outside a hostel in Waikiki needs to be commended for putting 2 and 2 together and notifying the police. I've always said that public help is critical to keeping crime rates down and helping HPD solve crimes.
on July 27,2013 | 08:08PM
mkboyds4 wrote:
vernon lux baker -Creative Director at BioSpiriTech location honolulu friends with mary beth san jaun info from facebook . social media strikes again . great job hpd
on July 27,2013 | 08:27PM
BigOpu wrote:
Right on HPD. This is one in the win column.
on July 27,2013 | 08:31PM
false wrote:
Hey, what happened to all the posters that initially accused the poor husband???
on July 27,2013 | 09:49PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Again, false, you are not quite correct. Many, like myself simply stated that often the killer is someone that the victim knows such as the ex-husband or current husband. I did not state that he was the killer. I just simply stated that I would not be the least surprised if he were in some way involved in the murder. Others also stated that the incident seemed suspicious because of the fact that the ex-husband showed up at the home and automatically pointed to the carpet and said that there was a dead body. Further, just because we have a suspect does not mean that he acted alone. There are many other scenarios that are possible. The ex-husband could have been the killer and the suspect was simply an opportunist who saw the dead body and rummaged through her belongings. More bizarre things have happened in real life homicide cases. So, false, the other posters like myself are not running away in shame because this is just a place to post your opinion, right or wrong. No one here is perfect and I do not pretend to know everything. Nor do I claim to know the answers to all problems or have the answer to a crime event. All I have are opinions just like you. I have no shame in what I post. You, on the other hand, claim to be a teacher yet your posts often befuddle other readers and wonder how such a person can acquire a job that mold the minds of our children. Now, that, my friend, is scary.
on July 28,2013 | 12:14AM
HAJAA1 wrote:
Scary town side
on July 27,2013 | 11:34PM
808warriorfan wrote:
I wonder what HPD found out that got this guy so fast ?????
on July 28,2013 | 12:24AM
st1d wrote:
the atm video and public tips helped out here.
on July 28,2013 | 04:39AM
BadBingo wrote:
This is so sad. My heartfelt condolences to her family.
on July 28,2013 | 07:01AM
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