Episode 129:

Coincidence Island

The Honolulu Strangler


The Galapagos Affair


Episode 129: Coincidence Island

Karen and Georgia cover the Honolulu Strangler and the Galapagos Affair.

Listen on Apple Podcasts. Listen on Spotify

The Honolulu Strangler

The Honolulu Strangler Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Christian Joudrey on Unsplash

Other Image Sources:

Victims Vicki Gail Purdy, Regina Sakamoto, Louise Medeiros, Denise Hughes, Linda Pesce from Learning-History.com

"The Honolulu Strangler, also known as the Honolulu Rapist, was an unidentified, and Hawaii's first known, serial killer and was responsible for the death of five women in Honolulu between 1985 and 1986. The killer has not been caught.

The first victim was Vicki Gail Purdy, age 25, a military spouse of Gary Purdy, an army helicopter pilot. She had left to go clubbing in Waikīkī on May 29, 1985, but failed to meet her friends. She was last seen by the taxi driver who drove her to the Shorebird Hotel at 12:00 a.m., apparently to retrieve her car, which was later found in the hotel parking lot. The next morning, her body was found in an embankment at Keehi Lagoon, wearing her yellow jumpsuit. Her hands were bound behind her back, and she had been raped and strangled. Her husband told police he suspected her death to be associated with her job, working at a video rental store that also handled pornographic film, where two women were stabbed to death one year earlier.

The second victim was Regina Sakamoto, age 17, of Leilehua High School. She had missed her bus from Waipahu to school on January 14, 1986, and was last heard from by her boyfriend at 7:15 a.m. when she called to tell him she would be late. On January 15, her body was found at Keehi Lagoon wearing her blue tank top and white sweatshirt, but her lower body was unclothed. Her hands bound behind her back, she had been raped and strangled. She was planning on attending Hawaii Pacific University in the fall. This second case led police to suspect the same killer as the first because of the same modus operandi.

The third victim was Denise Hughes, age 21, a secretary for a telephone company who commuted by bus and was active in her Christian church. She did not show up to work on January 30, and was found dead in Moanalua stream by three young fishermen on February 1. Her decomposing body was clothed in a blue dress, wrapped in a blue tarp, and with her hands bound. She had been sexually assaulted and strangled. Prompted by a third body, a serial killer taskforce was established on February 5.

The fourth victim was Louise Medeiros, age 25. She lived in Waipahu but had gone to Kauai to meet her extended family because of the death of her mother. Medeiros took a late night flight back to Oahu on March 26 and told her family she would get home by bus from the airport. She disembarked the airplane and disappeared. Her decomposing body was found April 2 near Waikele stream by road workers. She was wearing her blouse, but her lower body was unclothed, and her hands were bound behind her back. Police set up sting operations using policewomen around Keehi Lagoon and the Honolulu International Airport.

The fifth and last known victim of the Honolulu Strangler was Linda Pesce, age 36. According to her roommate, she left home on the morning of April 29 and was expected to be home late that evening, due to a pre-scheduled work meeting. The next morning, after being told that Linda had not shown up for work and that her car was parked on the side of the Nimitz-H1 viaduct, her roommate reported her missing. A Caucasian man, Howard Gay, told police a psychic told him a body could be located at Sand Island. On May 3, the informant took police to an exact location, only to find nothing there. Police then searched the entire island and found Pesce's body. She was nude, her hands bound behind her back.

The Honolulu Police Department had established a 27-person serial killer taskforce on February 5 with help from the FBI and the Green River taskforce. The killer's profile was that of an opportunist who attacked women who were vulnerable, such as at bus stops, not one who stalks his victims. He also likely lives or works in the area of the attacks, Waipahu or Sand Island.

Police set up roadblocks at the time of the Pesce murder to question frequent commuters. Witnesses came forward saying they had seen a light colored van and a Caucasian or mixed-race man with Pesce's car.

Following the discovery of Pesce's body, police arrested the informant on May 9 as the primary suspect. The suspect's ex-wife and girlfriend described him as a smooth talker. They also provided a potentially incriminating fetish clue, as both recalled engaging in bondage activity, allowing him to tie them up and have sex with their hands bound behind their back. His girlfriend related that on nights after they had fought, he would leave the house, and that these were the same nights the murders had occurred. The suspect lived in Ewa Beach and worked as a mechanic at one of the air freight carriers along Lagoon Drive. Between 8:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m., the suspect was interrogated, failed a polygraph test and was eventually released.

Police followed the suspect and a $25,000 reward for information was put out by private businesses. Two months after the arrest of the suspect, a woman came forward and claimed she saw Pesce with a man on the night of her murder. She successfully picked the suspect out of a photo lineup as the man. She did not want to be a witness because she believed he saw her as well..."

— Source: Honolulu Strangler Wikipedia 

The Galapagos Affair

The Galapagos Affair Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Ruud Luijten on Unsplash

Other Image Sources:

Dr. Ritter and Dore Strauch from HerMoments.com

"In 1929, German doctor Friedrich Ritter felt the need to get out of Germany. Running off with one of his patients, Dore Strauch, he made his way to the Galapagos Islands, where he settled on Floreana Island. Floreana is an unforgiving, harsh place, but he and Strauch made a rugged home there out of volcanic rocks and twisted pieces of wood. The eccentric doctor praised a regime of hard work, a vegetarian diet and lack of creature comforts. Such a lifestyle, he said, would make a man strong. They became famous: the two lovers, alone on a remote island, carving a life out of the barren rock under the blistering island heat.

As the fame of Ritter and Strauch spread, other settlers came to Floreana. Most of them could not hack it and left after a brief stay. A German family, Heinz and Margret Wittmer and their son, did stay.The Wittmers were not exactly friendly with Ritter and Strauch, but they tolerated and respected one another and helped each other in times of need.

Not long after the Wittmers arrived, they were followed by "the Baroness:" a young Austrian named Eloise Wehrborn de Wagner-Bosquet. She was accompanied by Rudolf Lorenz and Robert Philippson, her two German lovers: they announced their intention of building a grand hotel on Floreana. She was an attractive woman and greeted passing ships wearing a skimpy outfit complete with a whip and pistol. She told grandiose stories and it wasn't long before ships passing through the Pacific would go out of their way to see her.

The stage was set for drama. The Wittmers and Ritter were sure the Baroness was going through their mail and spreading lies about them to passing ships. Meanwhile, Wagner-Bosquet had turned on Lorenz and Philippson began beating and abusing him regularly: he would take refuge at the Wittmer home until someone came for him, when he would sheepishly return to the Baroness. Petty conflicts among the settlers escalated until life on the island was intolerable.

On March 27, 1934, the Baroness and Philippson disappeared. According to Margret Wittmer, they had boarded a passing yacht headed for Tahiti. The story was extremely dubious, however: there was no record of such a yacht entering Galapagos at that time and they never turned up in Tahiti (or anywhere else for that matter).

Meanwhile, Rudolf Lorenz hurriedly attempted to get back to Germany. He hired a Norwegian fisherman named Nuggerud to take him to San Cristobal Island, where he could catch a ferry to the mainland. They both disappeared until their mummified bodies were discovered months later on arid Marchena Island.

Just a few months later, in November, Dr. Ritter died, apparently of food poisoning after eating some poorly preserved chicken. According to the Wittmers, he said before dying that Dore Strauch had poisoned him: Strauch always denied it. She left Galapagos not long after and returned to Germany, where she wrote a book about her experiences.

The mystery of the Galapagos affair has never been solved. Margret Wittmer died in 2000. She stuck to her story about the boat for Tahiti her whole life (although she loved dropping hints that she knew more than she was letting on). Dore Strauch claimed that she and Dr. Ritter were certain that Lorenz had murdered Phillipson and Wagner-Bosquet and that the Wittmers had helped him cover it up. No one knows how Nuggerud and Lorenz ended up on Marchena, which was far away from their destination of San Cristobal. It will probably always remain a mystery, too, unless some new information comes to light!"

— Source: Galapagos Island

Fucking Hoorays!


I cannot tell you how triggering this thing I’m about to plug is...it’s call The Tale. It’s by Director Jennifer Fox and chronicles her story of childhood abuse at the hands of a high-school coach. It’s one of the most insanely beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. It’s so well done and so important and hit me in so many places of my own — it is incredibly triggering — but I really want people to watch it because it’s so moving.



When I got home from vacation, I had a bunch of stuff on my DVR, but was especially excited about the British Procedural of Endeavour. It’s just such a well put together and beautifully shot show. Then there was also waiting for me the new season of Shetland, which is a Scottish Procedural — and talk about ASMR for the eyes. And I know I’ve said it before but, CB Strike! Which is now a show I wait for because I love the leads and it’s so well done.