By JOHN BURNETT
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Police have arrested and charged an 18-year-old Hilo man for allegedly robbing two tourists from California at knifepoint early Wednesday morning at Kolekole Beach Park north of Hilo.
Tyler Kamanao Taylor, 18, was taken into custody Friday afternoon at Rainbow Falls. He was charged Friday night with first-degree robbery, auto theft, property damage and two counts each of unlawful imprisonment, second-degree theft and first-degree terroristic threatening. All the charges except property damage are felonies, and Taylor is being held in lieu of $121,000 bail at the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Monday.
A search of court records found no prior adult criminal convictions for Taylor.
One of the victims, Rayna Macher, a 29-year-old neuropsychologist and assistant professor at Palo Alto University, told the Tribune-Herald on Wednesday that she was camping at the county park with a 29-year-old San Franciscan named Daniel, whom she had met at Hilo Bay Hostel, when she was awakened by an intruder in their tent. She said the man ripped through their tent with a knife, which was also brandished at them, shined a flashlight in their faces, ransacked their belongings, stole numerous items including their wallets, which contained money and credit cards, a laptop computer, their cell phones, an expensive digital camera, and then took off in the white 2012 Ford Mustang coupe she had rented.
Macher said that she and her friend walked about a half-hour in darkness to a bed and breakfast, awakened the owner, and called police to report the robbery.
Police on Thursday found the car abandoned in upper Wainaku. Police Lt. Miles Chong at the Hilo receiving desk said Saturday morning he didn’t know what led detectives to Taylor, or if a weapon or any property were recovered. The Tribune-Herald was unable to contact the Criminal Investigations Section on Saturday.
Macher said that she was “really impressed” by the professionalism of the Hawaii Police Department.
“To identify a suspect … and to apprehend him within 48 hours is amazing to me,” she said. “I hope this doesn’t hurt Hawaii’s reputation (as a visitor destination) because this is just one of those unfortunate situations where someone’s at the wrong place at the wrong time. … But the police department worked quickly and kept me in the loop and called me twice a day to let me know what was going on.”
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