Thursday | November 23, 2017
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Police: ‘Not ready to identify victims’ in triple homicide

Police said autopsies were conducted on a woman and two children who were shot to death in Puna early Friday morning.

“We’re not ready to identify the victims,” Capt. Robert Wagner of the Hilo Criminal Investigation Division said Friday afternoon. “We are working with fingerprints on the adult female decedent, but for the juveniles, we’re finding it challenging right now. We’re still on it, trying to identify them. … So, we’re working with doctors, trying to see if we can find the identity of these individuals through possible dental records.”

Other media reports say the bodies are those of the wife or girlfriend and the young son and daughter of the suspect, John Ali Hoffman, a 49-year-old Leilani Estates man.

Police arrived at a Moku Street home in Leilani Estates after a 1:30 a.m. call of a disturbance at the house and arrested Hoffman on suspicion of first-degree murder, three counts of second-degree murder and a firearms offense.

Hoffman, who is being detained at the Hilo police cellblock, was stopped by police when he tried to drive away from the scene.

“He was driving with no lights on so they pulled him over,” Wagner said. “There was blood dripping from the trunk area of the car, so they opened up the trunk, and there she was, the adult female. She was already dead.”

Officers found the slain children inside the home.

Wagner said a firearm was found on the seat of the car next to Hoffman.

Next-door neighbor Tim Mullins said he didn’t know Hoffman or his family, but added, “I do know they were not a happy couple over there.”

“They would argue and fight, and I would hear it from time to time. But before it got too bad, it would quiet out,” Mullins said.

Mullins said he didn’t hear gunshots but did hear a woman’s voice “piercing” through the sounds of rain and coqui frogs.

“I was trying to sleep, so I tried to tune that out, and I didn’t think anything of it at that time,” he said.

A triple homicide is rare, not only for the area, but for the entire island, Wagner said.

“I can’t remember having one before,” he said. “It’s definitely unique.”

Added Mullins, “Leilani is such a nice little neighborhood, and people are very friendly. You see (people), and you wave when you walk down the street, and they drive by. And I really like that about here.”

Hoffman, who goes by “Snofru Ali” on Facebook, posted a long, convoluted and cryptic diatribe on the social media site Thursday, calling himself “the first American Negro Human being man of the World.”

He wrote “my affairs must be talked out in the public eye, with my people and with all powers of the world I demand a set down (sic) forthwith, in the name of world peace …”

Hoffman said he seeks the tribunal because “they are trying to kill us, red, black, brown, and Negro … Africans, African American and all my other human family of the Americas and world wide and in Africa, we are the target, please free me and so we can maybe end racism, and corruption, in the name of world peace, for growth and forever.”

In a video he posted Monday, Hoffman called himself an “entrepreneur” and said he was “systematically oppressed, deprived of life, liberty and the pursuit.”

“I purchased a piece of fair property land under valuable consideration under the assumption that I could build a home, after I was forced from my home to salvage my family.” It’s not clear if the homicide victims are family to whom he referred.

A civil lawsuit brought against Hoffman four years ago alleges he bought a piece of property and stopped making payments on it. The case was decided in favor of the plaintiffs, Saron Magan and Bhupen Magan Ttee.

An April 28 Facebook post by Hoffman appears to accuse Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura, Kona Circuit Judge Melvin Fujino and recently retired Hilo District Judge Barbara Takase of attempting to have him murdered, and alleges CIA involvement “in this domestic dispute.”

“I have reached out to the justice department for help, and in turn they have caused me more harm, they have falsified all my documents, the justice department did this to prevent the judges from going to jail,” Hoffman wrote. “I have been fighting these evil judges for 9 years, then the Obama administration stepped in to deny me all my human rights, who can I call on if the man I voted for turned his back on the man in the mirror, f—- Obama.”

Police ask anyone with information about this case to call the department’s nonemergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Scott Amaral at 961-2276 or

Those who prefer anonymity can call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 and might be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Email John Burnett at


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