I will always remember him as Jimmy Lawrence, captain of the Maui Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division.
He was a detective, a great detective, in the old mold. No high-tech “CSI” analysis in his day. Sleuthing was a lot about people, knowing potential suspects, tapping friends in other law enforcement organizations. About as high tech as it got in those days was tracking a suspect through credit card receipts and using the fancy phone on his desk that could record conversations.
It also was about keen observation, hard work, determination and never giving up.
He brought all of that to “the ultimate case” of his 34-year police career, the murder of Ann Craddock.
The Maui News police reporter at the time, Christie Wilson, did what amounted to an exit interview with the retiring assistant chief in August 1988. He spun Christie the story, just as he did me and probably every other reporter he trusted.
On Aug. 26, 1977, Craddock, a waitress in Kaanapali, told a friend that she was meeting her old boyfriend, Randall Krause, later that night and that he was finally going to pay back a $400 loan. She left after her shift and was never seen alive again.
Although her body had yet to be recovered, a grand jury indicted Krause and his friend Alan Arnold on murder charges. It was going to be a difficult case to try without a body.
Searchers in helicopters and using infrared equipment scoured the Lahaina coastline without finding Craddock. Then, a cellmate of Krause drew a crude map of where Krause told him he had buried Craddock’s body, and the search shifted to the Maalaea mudflats.
On Good Friday 1978, Capt. Lawrence and his sons Lenie, 19, and Guy, 16, set out for Maalaea to find Craddock. As Capt. Lawrence tells the story, it was almost as if Craddock were calling to them to find her.
After searching for a bit, he heard Lenie yell: “Dad, you better come over here now.”
“My hair was standing up already, all on my arm,” he told Christie. “I already had one funny feeling. I took the shovel and took about two or three little shovelfuls and all of a sudden I saw her foot.”
Krause was later convicted of murder and Arnold of manslaughter. Both since have been paroled.
He actually told the story a lot better in person. I was a reporter in my early 20s on my first job on my first beat when he recounted the Craddock murder to me. One of the first things he made clear to me was to not quote him when off the record or there would be nothing else from him.
On many mornings for several years in the early 1980s, I’d sit in his office in the lower level of what is now the Kalana Pakui building, and he’d give me information about interesting cases I found on the log.
For a story on unsolved murder cases, he opened up all the files and showed me photos of the scenes – and the victims. I got the feeling he was looking at me closely as he put the photos of victims, some decomposing, before me.
In Christie’s story, he mentioned how he had to get over the discomfort of seeing dead bodies and observing autopsies. He beat it by going back and watching another autopsy.
“As much as I hated it, I forced it on myself. I got rid of the feelings. . . . I could come home after a real heavy death, turn it off and eat my food and play with my children. I got to beat it, but it wasn’t easy.”
Lenie, who followed his father into the police force, said that his dad “was extremely proud of being a Maui County police officer.”
“He regarded as his most fulfilling time in the department the years he spent as a detective and later the captain of detectives,” he said.
Capt. Lawrence was respected in the community, by victims and criminals alike. Lenie recalled the owner of a donkey in an animal cruelty case ending up giving the animal to his dad. A man serving time in the Olinda prison because of detective work by Capt. Lawrence made a coffee table and gave it to him. When asked why he would offer a gift to the man who put him behind bars, the inmate replied that he felt like Capt. Lawrence treated him with respect.
Capt. Lawrence was born Feb. 2, 1932, in Honolulu, and graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 1950. He enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and was stationed at Kahului Harbor. He met his future wife, Lucille Sakamoto, who was a waitress at the old Hale Lava on Lower Main Street, and they were married in 1955.
They have three sons, Jamie, Lenie and Guy.
As a father, he felt the pull to stay at a house where a well-known tree trimmer had died suddenly in his bedroom in a 1960s unattended death case. The man had a 12-year-old son; Capt. Lawrence felt it was his responsibility to deliver the bad news to the boy personally.
When the boy got home, Capt. Lawrence broke the bad news. The boy calmly asked to see his father’s body and asked him to kneel with him to pray over the body.
The boy told his father that he was thankful to have him as a dad and that he was going to miss him. He also said he hoped they would someday be together again.
Capt. Lawrence’s eyes were filled with tears as he told Christie the story. The poignant farewell touched him on so many levels. He remembered hoping his sons would think of him with as much love and respect when his time came.
“I went in the yard and cried like a baby,” he said. “That story meant so much to me. You think you’re one tough cop but actually you’re not. There are things you can’t get adjusted to, things that you carry with you all the time.”
Capt. Lawrence died Oct. 21, at his residence in Kahului. He was 81 years old.
His son Guy had taken him on a ride to Kepaniwai Park and Iao Valley – his favorite places – on the morning he died. When he passed, he was surrounded by family.
“James will be greatly missed by his family and remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” said Lenie.
* Lee Imada is the managing editor. He can be reached at email@example.com. “Off Deadline” is an occasional column allowing staffers to comment on issues of the day or to just talk story.