A 21-year-old man is in police custody in connection with the slaying of a 23-year-old woman and her 6-month-old boy Wednesday in Ewa Beach — creating heightened concern about possible dangers to domestic violence victims sheltering in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The domestic violence-related homicide occurred at a unit at 91-214 Hanapouli Circle at the Sun Rise townhome complex near the Ewa Town Center.
Police arrested Kendall Rashad Ramsey, identifying him in an arrest log as the woman’s boyfriend.
Positive identification of the victims are pending, according to the Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office.
Advocates say they fear for domestic violence victims as Hawaii’s mandated stay-at-home order continues through April 30.
“This is exactly what we’ve been worrying about at the Domestic Violence Action Center,” said Executive Director Nanci Kriedman. “The escalation of abuse when victims are restricted at home with their abuser.”
“We have to figure out next steps to save lives,” she said. “That’s what this is going to catapult us to do.”
Lt. Deena Thoemmes of the Honolulu Police Department’s Homicide Detail said patrol officers responded to a call of suspicious circumstances at a residence at about 11:50 p.m. Wednesday.
Upon arrival a witness told officers that she came to the residence to check on her friend when she found the woman and her infant dead in the residence.
A preliminary investigation indicated the woman suffered a stab wound or wounds. The type of injuries the baby boy sustained is still under investigation.
Police issued an all-points bulletin on a possible suspect’s vehicle. At the same time, officers from the Wahiawa police station were responding to a two-vehicle collision on Kunia Road near Lyman Road. The drivers involved in the crash sustained serious injuries and were taken to a hospital for treatment.
Thoemmes said one of the drivers was positively identified as the suspect in the double homicide. Police arrested him at The Queen’s Medical Center at about 3:25 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of first-degree murder.
Police closed a section of Kunia Road for several hours as part of the investigation. Officers recovered a silver, four-door sedan driven by the suspect at the scene of the crash, and a knife from the townhouse was also found.
Advocates say they expect more domestic violence-related cases with the additional stressors from impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, citing unemployment, sheltering-in-place in close quarters, inability to pay bills and possible evictions.
Supporters remind victims all shelters are open in Hawaii.
Members of the community are urged to be aware of warning signs of abuse and to reach out to victims to offer help.
Angelina Mercado, executive director of the Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, advised victims to “make sure that you stay connected” with people you trust and are dependable. Victims are also encouraged to arrange with a trusted friend or family member an image or emoji they both agree on so the victim can send a text alert to the friend to call her or 911 if in danger.