Remember this case of 44 years ago this month? Probably not.
The disappearance of Robert “Robby” McDonald, 22, of Pupukea, who was suspected of being the victim in a drug deal gone bad.
It may be our most long-time unsolved case of a Hawaii person detectives said is presumed to be dead.
He had told people he was going to meet two men and collect a substantial amount of money from them.
Then nothing. And not to this day. No body or remains of one. No confessions. No murder evidence good enough for charges and a criminal trial.
Circuit Court judge Hiroshi Kato said he was convinced by what he called clear evidence that McDonald died “an unnatural and violent death.” But who caused it? Rewards were offered. Nothing new came in.
Then an oddity. Attorney David Robinson was hired to sue in civil court on behalf of McDonald’s parents, claiming “wrongful death” caused by a known person.
A civil case demands less evidence than a criminal case. Remember the O.J. Simpson case? Acquitted of murder but found guilty of wrongful death in civil court and hit with a huge monetary penalty.
The defendant in Robinson’s lawsuit was Alexander “Alika’ Dowsett of the prominent Dowsett missionary and cattle ranching family. There are criss-crossing Dowsett and Alika avenues in Nuuanu.
But long before any trial might have disclosed any telling details, the Dowsett Sr. family agreed to pay the McDonalds from their (the Dowsetts) homeowners’ insurance policy. How a homeowner’s policy could be used for something not alleged have happened at the home is still a mystery to people connected to the long investigation. But that’s what happened.
The case remains cold today. Alika Dowsett is alive and lives on Oahu. The last posting by WebSleuths, an online organization dedicated to helping revive cold missing persons and murder cases, contains only this information:
Date of Last Contact May 20, 1976
NamUs Case Created August 19, 2018
Last Known Location
Location Sunset, Hawaii 96712
Circumstances of Disappearance
Robert McDonald was last seen leaving his residence on May 20, 1976 in his vehicle. McDonald related to his roommate at the time that he was going to visit a friend. Rumors surfaced that McDonald was possibly murdered by two acquaintances over drugs.
1970 Toyota Truck
License Plate 534-194
Comments: Vehicle recovered abandoned on May 25, 1976 in the parking lot of Swanzey Beach Park.
Anybody out there know anything new? I’m all ears.
It’s always a shame when a family knows no closure, just the unsettled fate of a family member.
There’s no statute of limitation on a murder prosecution.
Justice in this case simply requires one good act of conscience.