Arson Investigation Underway into Kula Home and Vehicle Fire
Maui police have launched an arson investigation into suspicious fires that destroyed a home and sedan in Kula on Saturday, June 2, 2018.
Maui police say Christine Mendes was a former occupant of the residence, located at 11700 Piʻilani Highway in Kula. She also claimed ownership of the derelict Toyota sedan that was burned in the incident, according to Maui police. Police say Mendes claimed total damages to be $25,000.
Mendes was identified in Maui News reports as a key witness in a murder trial involving a deadly shooting incident on May 21, 2018 in Kanaio. Justin Namauu, 42, of Kula is charged with second degree murder for the death of Dennis Pacheco in the case. Namauu was being held in lieu of $2 million bail at last report.
Maui Police responded to our request for information saying “any connection between the arson investigation and murder would be speculation.”
Lieutenant Gregg Okamoto tells Maui Now that both the residence and vehicle fires were “suspicious” and are being investigated as an arson. He was unable to comment if there were any suspects in the ongoing investigation.
Lt. Okamoto tells us that the burned home was unoccupied at the time and was burned to the ground during the June 2 incident. Although Mendes claimed ownership of the burned vehicle, police said there were no plates or numbers on the vehicle, so an official description and ownership could not be determined.