Three teenaged boys had died at the Pali Lookout. In the early hours of Saturday morning, two had been stabbed to death, the other beaten, perhaps with a baseball bat or a tire iron.
Lieutenant David Chan had been asked by one reporter if he thought it were gang-related. He said that he could not answer that, nor would he speculate about it when further pressed. He assured them that any forthcoming details would be announced as they developed. From the way I read his words, however, I had the feeling that the Press might have to beat those details out of him like a confession. From what I’d learned of Chan, all I could say to the Fourth Estate was good luck with that interrogation.
After teaching Monday, I went to the campus library and perused back issues of both local papers, the Honolulu Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin. Chan had been designated as Departmental front man, seven years ago, when it came to speaking with the public about murders that rose above the mundane to a level of some public notice and interest. Also, write-ups of many of his cases went back more than 20 years.
In mid-1964, there was a roughly six-month gap in his liaison role. As I would find out later, Chan had requested reassignment from Homicide to the Records Department upon concluding the investigation of the murders, on the night of President Kennedy’s assassination, of his daughter Sarah and his longtime partner, Detective Victor Yamamoto. That reassignment would last, though, only for those six months, at which time he had returned to the Homicide Division.
When I’d discussed writing about Detective Chan’s cases with him, he had said he could never comment on an open case, and for both ongoing or concluded cases, he could not share details anyway, since doing so would violate the Department’s ethics policy. Then, too, there was always the possibility of law suits coming from anywhere, launched by anyone.
He said, in short, that I’d need to employ my best fictional wiles to flesh out the “facts” of a case. He cautioned me too, going forth, to do my best to alter enough of the details to mask identities, going so far as to not only change names, but even sexes of the persons involved, combine characters, adjust locations, and so on, depending on how complete a distancing from the case I needed to achieve.
My plan of attack became, then, to glean what I could from reportorial coverage of cases, as well as from Detective Chan’s own comments to the Press, when available. Making liberal use of any available trial transcripts, I would then hocus-pocus the information in the mysterious churn of story-telling method, and write tales that were hopefully, beyond dry statements of bald fact, at least of some reading interest to the public.
I spent many hours poring over transcripts and the library archive, hitting upon numerous cases involving Chan. The first one I settled upon to write up was the case of the murdered realtors.
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Aloha #WriterSaturday, I hope your weekend is going well and that you are safe. Today’s #WritingPrompt is
Use it to inspire a piece of writing, and then post that piece as a comment below. I would love to read it : )