Hawaii island police have released a 43-year-old Washington state man who was being held on suspicion of murder in connection with his wife’s death.
Police said Smriti Saxena’s body was found along the southern shoreline of Anaehoomalu Bay, north of Kona, about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Sonam Saxena, of Bellevue, Wash., was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder Wednesday afternoon after his wife’s body was found. He had reported Smriti Saxena missing about 11:20 p.m. Tuesday.
After conferring with prosecutors, police released the man this afternoon pending further investigation.
An autopsy was conducted and further testing is needed to determine the exact cause of death, police said today.
West Hawaii Today interviewed Sonam Saxena earlier Wednesday. He told the newspaper that he and his wife were walking Tuesday night on a secluded beach south of Anaehoomalu Bay when Smriti suffered an asthma attack, and he left her to bring her inhaler from their Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort room.
“She got an asthma attack right there on the beach and she was feeling weak and she didn’t want to walk all the way back because it’s almost a 20-minute walk back from that beach to our room,” Saxena told West Hawaii Today. “So, I said, ‘hey, you know what? You stay here, you have your phone with you and I’ll just go to the room grab your inhaler and pump and come back.’”
Saxena said he returned 40 to 50 minutes later to find that she was gone, but her purse, phone, credit card and driver’s license were still on the beach. He returned to their room to see if she returned, and upon finding out that she did not, he called police. Prior to their arrival, he said he and security continued to search for Smriti.
The couple was visiting from Washington, with their two children, ages 13 and 8. Saxena said they visit Hawaii every year to celebrate their eldest child’s birthday.
Police asked anyone who may have been near the south beach of Anaehoomalu Bay or may have seen Sonam or Smriti Tuesday evening to call detective Keith Simeona at 808-326-4646, ext. 281 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Witnesses can also call the police department’s non-emergency number at 808-935-3311.