LIHUE — Friends of the late Amber Ellis Jackson are not giving up on the search for her murderer, and they are appealing to the community for help. Sunday marks the third anniversary of her death.
Jackson, a 57-year-old from Kapaa, was last seen alive on the night of June 23, 2010. Her body was found by a hunter in a remote, wooded area of Kealia on July 3, 2010. An autopsy revealed the injuries leading to her death were from an assault.
The Amber Jackson Justice Group has a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Jackson’s killer.
“We are hoping and praying that there may be someone out there who will come forward now,” said Nancy Murphy, a member of the Amber Jackson Justice Group. “It’s been three years. Living with information about a murder of an innocent woman is a heavy burden to bear.”
A suspect has not been arrested in the case.
The investigation received a boost in 2012 with a $100,000 grant to start Hawaii’s first prosecutor-directed cold case murder unit in Kauai County, called Ke Ahi Pioole (the fire that never burns out).
Jackson is Kauai’s most recent cold case, and one of around 15 dating back to 1976 that is being investigated by the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and the Kauai Police Department thanks to the grant.
The funds are earmarked for two experienced prosecutors and two senior KPD investigators to work with DNA technology and forensic techniques and re-interview witnesses. Also, the grant will be used to fly in expert homicide consultants.
“Our investigators and attorneys continue to work this case, and all of Kauai’s unsolved murders, intensively and actively,” said County Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar.
“While we cannot share the details of the investigation, or promise a particular result, we can assure the public that we will not forget Amber; our thoughts, as always, are with her friends and family.”
Kauai Chief of Police Darryl Perry said the department is working in close collaboration with the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and other entities to move forward on the Jackson case and other unsolved homicides.
“Our objectives are to apprehend the perpetrator, bring justice to the victim, family and friends through successful prosecutions, and to restore a sense of security to our community,” Perry said. “With the advent of new technological advancements available to assist law enforcement, coupled with innovative investigative techniques, I am confident and convinced that we will be successful. But, these successes will take time to evolve and come to fruition.”
The first arrest since Ke Ahi Pioole formed was of Darren Galas in October 2012. He is due to stand trial in September for the 2006 murder of his estranged wife Sandra Galas.
Around 10 relatives and close friends of Jackson from Kauai and the Mainland formed the Amber Jackson Justice Group in 2010 to keep her memory in the minds of law enforcement and the public.
This group remains dedicated to bringing information forward that could assist with the investigation and to ensure that her memory is not forgotten.
Jackson worked as a secretary for the Hawaii State Teachers Association and as an administrator for Summers Realty.
Murphy was a close friend who has held an annual memorial service near Jackson’s home in Riverside, Calif., where Jackson worked at various addiction treatment centers before moving to Kauai in 2000.
Jackson had planned to return to California around the time of her murder, she said. The Amber Jackson Justice Group issued a news release to observe the third anniversary, stating it is grateful for community support and ask people to come forward with any information they may have.
Friends and family of the victim recalled Jackson as “a loving, caring and innocent woman, who not only lived and worked on Kauai, but gave back to the community. She was beloved by many, and is missed so much by all of us.”
Anyone with information they believe may be related to the case should call Crime Stoppers at 241-1887.
• Tom LaVenture, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.