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U.S. marshals arrest woman wanted in 2009 shooting death

  • HAWAII COUNTY POLICE

    Patricia Wong

U.S. marshals arrested a 54-year-old Big Island fugitive, wanted in a cold case murder investigation, today in Las Vegas, according to Hawaii County police.

Lt. Greg Esteban, Hawaii County police spokesman, said Patricia Wong, who is wanted for a 2009 shooting death in Puna, was arrested without incident after Hawaii County officials learned that she was not in Hawaii.

Esteban said a grand jury returned a second-degree murder indictment on Wednesday. Hawaii County authorities received tips that Wong, also known as Patricia Hanoa, was not in Hawaii, and on Friday, after an arrest warrant was issued, police contacted the U.S. Marshals Service in Las Vegas.

An extradition hearing will be held in Las Vegas.

The indictment stems from the 2009 death of Kaycee M. Smith, who was found in her Orchidland residence on June 30, 2009. An autopsy determined she died of a single gunshot wound to the head.

Court documents filed by police immediately after Smith’s death say the crime scene had been manipulated to make it appear like a suicide.

“The physical evidence present was inconsistent with that of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, then-Detective Reed Mahuna wrote. “The most significant inconsistency was the placement of the victim’s body — specifically that her hands appeared to be tucked under a small pillow.”

Authorities have declined to identify a motive for the killing, but say one has been identified.

Esteban said Wong is the suspect police identified when the case was brought before prosecutors in October 2009. Wednesday was the first time the case against Wong was taken to a grand jury, according to Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth.

“There was definitely some recent police work,” Roth said. “There were several follow-ups that we asked for. The extra work did add a lot to this case.”

Sara Oda, Smith’s roommate of four years, told KHON-TV that Smith was a loyal friend, always smiling and very caring. Oda welcomed the news of the indictment, but said it was bittersweet.

“You know, at first, I was just thankful that they finally found someone that they could tie to her death. At the same time, I was just so upset, because how could this woman do this to another woman and her child,” Oda said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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