Friends of Kauai resident Amber Jackson mobilized quickly after learning the 57-year-old secretary had gone missing on June 23.
They combed her favorite hiking spots. They posted fliers and lit up social media sites urging anyone with information to call police. They even sought out psychics in hopes of getting any clues of where she might be.
Yesterday, their worst fears were realized when Kauai police announced that a body found Saturday in a remote, wooded area was that of Jackson.
Police said they opened a murder investigation after an autopsy found that Jackson sustained injuries caused by an assault. Details of the injuries were not disclosed.
"I don’t see how anyone would want to do any ill will toward Amber," said Tom Perry, Jackson’s boss. "You never ever think something like this would happen to someone you know."
Perry, director of the Kauai office of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said Jackson worked with him the past three years.
Perry described her as an efficient employee with a great personality and many friends.
"We laughed a lot," he said. "I’ll miss her greatly."
Perry said the last time he saw her was at work on June 23. Jackson did not report to work the following day, but Perry thought she might have been at a forum in Honolulu.
Later that day, Jackson’s best friend called Perry to find out whether she had seen her, as she failed to show up for dinner that night with friends, Perry said. He said it was uncharacteristic of Jackson not to show up, as she would call during the rare times she was late for work.
The morning after that, June 25, Perry and others converged at Jackson’s Kapahi home, where they saw her car parked in the driveway with her purse and cell phone inside, he said.
Her hiking boots also were in her home, located on the edge of the mountains. Jackson enjoyed kayaking and hiking, especially at Sleeping Giant in Kapaa, Perry said.
Friends conducted an extensive search and offered a $10,000 reward. Police issued a CrimeStoppers missing persons report.
About 8:30 a.m. Saturday, pig hunters found the fully clothed body of a woman about four miles from her home. Police initially classified the case as an unattended death.