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Man arrested in connection with fatal Kakaako stabbing of UH employee

COURTESY HAWAII CRIMINAL JUSTICE DATA CENTER
                                Jesse Lewis Nielsen, 30, charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a 63-year-old man in his Kakaako apartment.
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COURTESY HAWAII CRIMINAL JUSTICE DATA CENTER

Jesse Lewis Nielsen, 30, charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a 63-year-old man in his Kakaako apartment.

Honolulu police arrested a 30-year-old convicted felon Monday afternoon on suspicion of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a 63-year-old man in Kakaako.

Prosecutors charged Jesse Lewis Nielsen with second-degree murder. His bail was set at $1 million.

Police said the two met Feb. 19 on a social media application, and met in person just before 1 p.m. that same day at the victim’s apartment.

While there, the suspect allegedly stabbed the victim multiple times, causing his death, police said.

Police said they were able to identify the suspect after recovering evidence, making DNA comparisons, reviewing surveillance video and examining forensic cellphone evidence.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office identified the man who was found dead Wednesday in his apartment as Yaohua Yan.

Police reclassified his death Thursday to a second-degree murder case from an unattended death after an autopsy determined the manner of death was homicide.

Yan had worked for five years at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Center of Disability Studies and was in charge of program/website management and development, institutional agreements, wrote grants, provided fiscal source support and coordinated community events and outreach projects. A few months ago, he accepted a position as an academic support specialist at UH-Manoa’s Center for Chinese Studies, according to an Oct. 2 announcement from the center.

Ming-Bao Yue, director of the Center for Chinese Studies, wrote in the announcement that Yan “(is) a hard-working, mature, reliable/responsible and cooperative team player.” He held master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Chinese language and literature from East China Normal University in Shanghai.

He arrived in Hawaii in 1991 and earned a master’s degree from UHM’s College of Education. He was a special education teacher for the Department of Education for more than a decade.

Nielsen has a conviction record dating back to 2015. On Feb. 28, 2023, he was convicted of attempted second-degree sexual assault, second-degree assault and third-degree drug promotion. He was sentenced to one year confinement and five years’ probation.

He was also convicted in 2016 of assaulting a police officer, first-degree burglary, unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and resisting arrest.

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