By Brian Maass
DENVER (CBS4) – The Naval Criminal Investigative Service and other law enforcement officials will announce next week a renewed effort to solve a 36-year-old double murder that occurred in Hawaii.
One of the victims, Rodney James “Rocky” Padilla, was a 21 year old Marine from Westminster.
“If we can get some justice for my brother, he deserves it. He did nothing wrong to lose his life,” said his older brother, Joe Padilla, who was a Denver police officer for 32 years before he retired.
He plans to travel to Honolulu Wednesday to speak at a news conference scheduled for Monday, Dec. 19.
“The fact they are reopening this gives me renewed hope,” Padilla told CBS4.
Rocky Padilla had attended Ranum High School. After graduating, he enlisted in the Marines and served overseas for six months.
He was eventually assigned to a marine base at Kaneohe in Hawaii. But in September 1980, Padilla and a second Marine, Lawrence Martens, 19, were found beaten and shot at Maunalua Bay Beach Park on Oahu near a car they had borrowed.
Their bodies were found early on the morning of Sept. 7, according to news reports at the time. The reports said police had few leads and were uncertain of the motive for the killings.
“It was horrible,” said Joe Padilla. “I felt like jumping on a plane and going and doing my own investigation but obviously that’s impossible. It was really tough. You know you have such a sense of closeness with your siblings and not being able to help, it was bad.”
Padilla said his family often talked about Rocky but past attempts to get authorities to reopen the cold case were unsuccessful.
Out of the blue, Joe Padilla received a phone call this month from NCIS investigator Phil Camero in Hawaii saying the agency was taking another look at the case, and offering an increased $10,000 reward and planning a news conference for next week in the hopes that new publicity might result in new leads.
“It was overwhelming. It was a godsend. I had wished for years they would open the case,” said Padilla. “36 years is a long time but there are a lot of people alive who were around Hawaii at that time. If we can get some justice for my brother he deserves it.”
Camero said the renewed effort on the Padilla case also involves the Honolulu Police Department, which is the lead agency. Camero did not specify what prompted the new look at the Padilla case but he said with cold cases,
“The passage of time becomes your ally. Relationships do change.”
Padilla said he was asked, and agreed, to travel to Hawaii and appear at the news conference, which will be held at the site where the murders took place. He said he has never been to Hawaii as it would have been too painful, given his brother’s death there.
“He had so much to look forward to and it was taken from him and no one has a right to take a life like that,” said Padilla. “If we can get some justice for my brother, he deserves it. He did nothing wrong to lose his life.”