A Honolulu grand jury last Thursday indicted Jason Lee McCormick, 36, on charges he murdered a visiting linguistics professor in 1996. Robert Henderson, 51, was found dead in his Waikiki hotel room in July 1996, with a handwritten note on his body accusing him of molesting young boys.
Robert Henderson was a respected Professor at the University of Pittsburgh who had come to Hawaii for an academic conference at the University of Hawaii. His family and colleagues said he was a likeable, humble bachelor who never displayed signs of an unusual lifestyle. His favorite hobby was playing the bagpipes. Since his death, a linguistics learning center at the University of Pittsburgh and an annual research award have been named in his honor. His brother came to Hawaii after Henderson’s death to ask for the public’s help in solving the crime. Michael Henderson said he believed the bizarre message written on his brother’s body was the killer’s attempt to mislead police about the true motive.
Prosecutors said McCormick has confessed to the crime several years ago, but that his statement wasn’t strong enough evidence to charge him with the crime, and he was released pending further investigation. However, a grand jury indicted McCormick Thursday morning in the slaying and a bench warrant was then issued for his arrest when he couldn’t be located. Officials said his picture and information were released to Crime Stoppers and a few hours later he was arrested. McCormick is being held on $500,000 bond. Deputy Prosecutor Vickie Kapp said McCormick was a flight risk because he had no local arrest and had family on the Mainland. Prosecutors would not reveal any details of his confession or what more they might have learned about the motive for the crime.
The indictment is for murder in the second degree, and does not include any language indicating the killing was a hate crime. If convicted, McCormick would be sentenced to life with the possibility of parole. The post is here.