Suspect arrested in Florida for 19-year-old Kihei murder
Anthony Moreno is indicted in death of Kimberly Belluomini
WAILUKU — Nineteen years after a woman was found dead in her Kihei apartment, a man was arrested Thursday in Florida on an indictment charging him with her murder, Maui police said.
Anthony Moreno, now 59, is charged with second-degree murder of Kimberly Belluomini in the indictment returned Nov. 22 by a Maui County grand jury. His bail is set at $1 million.
Belluomini, who worked as an administrative accounting assistant at the Maui High Performance Computing Center in Kihei, was found dead in a bedroom of her second-floor apartment at Southpointe on Oct. 27, 2000, her birthday. She was 38 years old.
The night before, she had been at Henry’s Bar & Grill in Lipoa Center in Kihei and was seen leaving with Moreno, witnesses told police.
She and Moreno shared a cab to her apartment, and he was the last person known to have seen her alive, said Detective Nelson Hamilton, the primary investigator in the cold case.
“As far as we know, he had no ties to her except for that night,” Hamilton said Thursday.
He said more information would surface as the case progresses.
Belluomini’s death was classified as a homicide resulting from traumatic head injuries, according to a death certificate provided to her family. Belluomini, a mother of two, had been living on Maui for about five years after moving from California, where she grew up.
Moreno’s arrest marked the second Maui Police Department cold case investigation that has led to a murder indictment in recent months.
In September, Bernard Brown, 48, was arrested on a charge of second-degree murder of 46-year-old Moreira “Mo” Monsalve, his ex-girlfriend. The mother of three was last seen the night of Jan. 12, 2014, at Brown’s apartment at Iao Parkside in Wailuku, police said.
Brown has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial in 2nd Circuit Court.
While police said changing technology and evidence from Monsalve’s destroyed cellphone helped lead to Brown’s indictment, police Capt. Clyde Holokai said “a new set of eyes” was a key in the indictment against Moreno.
“There were some loose ends to tie up,” said Holokai, who is commander of the police Criminal Investigation Division. “What really made the difference was not just MPD. We had some gutsy prosecutors that are willing to take chances on these cases.
“They are hungry, just as we are, for justice for these families. It’s the perfect mixture.”
Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Martin and First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera have worked with police detectives to develop the cold case investigations, Holokai said.
“A big driving force behind it is the same thing that drives these detectives — they care about the families,” Holokai said.
Hamilton said he began looking into Belluomini’s murder after police evidence specialist Vincent Souki brought the case to the detective’s attention shortly before Souki retired a few years ago.
“Over several months, I reviewed the case, did some follow-up interviews, reviewed the evidence, then presented it to the prosecutors,” Hamilton said. “There was some information that was missing that needed to be added to the report.”
He said some evidence was sent out to be tested.
“It was a little bit of work” to locate Moreno, who left Maui after 2005, Hamilton said.
Police found two possible locations for Moreno in Texas and Florida.
Holokai’s connections from the FBI National Academy helped track down Moreno, who was living on a boat in West Palm Beach.
Holokai and Detective Oran Satterfield went to Florida, getting help from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit to make contact with Moreno on Nov. 13, during the rainy season.
“He was surprised when we went down to talk to him,” Satterfield said Thursday. “He didn’t want to give us a statement. He didn’t want to talk to us.”
Hamilton said Moreno did talk to police shortly after the murder, making comments indicating he was with Belluomini when she was last seen alive.
After Holokai and Satterfield visited Moreno last month, “he knew something was afoot,” Holokai said.
Still, arresting officers reported that the unemployed Moreno was surprised Thursday.
“He was shocked to be arrested,” Holokai said.
Moreno, who was arrested on his boat Thursday, was being held in Florida pending an extradition hearing in court there, possibly next week, Hamilton said.
He said Belluomini’s family was told Moreno had been arrested.
“The family was definitely pleased after the grand jury indictment came down,” Hamilton said. “This has been a big stressor on them to go all this time. So I really hope that this brings them some kind of beginning of closure.”
Holokai said detectives are continuing investigations into other cold cases.
“Just because it takes a while doesn’t mean we have forgotten,” he said.
New technology is just one factor that can help investigators, Holokai said.
“A lot of times in cold cases, a lot of things change,” Holokai said. “Other things that change are relations between people. People who knew something at a certain time might not have said something because they were close to the offender.
“Time is to our advantage when we’re working cold cases. Another thing is a new set of eyes, a different angle looking at the case.”
“Time is definitely on our side,” Hamilton added.
He said offenders “have to be lucky all the time” to avoid being prosecuted for crimes.
“We have to be lucky once,” he said. “Definitely, we have that on our side as well.”
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.