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Big Isle man charged with murder of missing musician

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 5:26 p.m. HST, Jun 12, 2014

A Kawaihae man has been charged with murder in connection with the remains of a missing Kona musician discovered in South Kohala in March.

On Monday, a Kona grand jury indicted 55-year-old Martin F. Booth on one count of second-degree murder. At 9:40 a.m. Thursday, police arrested him at the Kona police station.

Detectives located the human remains March 10 on vacant land between Queen Kaahumanu Highway and Puako Beach Drive.

The remains were identified through dental records as 37-year-old Robert Keawe Lopaka Ryder of Kailua-Kona, who had been reported missing. His family reported on Jan. 17 that they had not heard from him since Thanksgiving 2013.

During an autopsy conducted on March 12, the medical examiner determined that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and that the manner of death was homicide.

At that time, detectives from the Area II Criminal Investigations Section reclassified the case to a murder. During their investigation, they developed evidence linking Booth to the crime, police said.

Booth has been incarcerated at Hawaii Community Correctional Center since February pending trial on an assortment of charges, including meth trafficking and firearm offenses.

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