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Hawaii Police Reopen Cold-Case Investigation of Bay Area Woman's Murder

By Max Darrow

EL GRANADA (CBS SF) -- Investigators have reopened a cold case murder of a Bay Area woman more than 40 years later.

It was 43 years ago when loved ones last saw Valerie Ann Warshay.

"Oh, she was amazing," said her sister, Donna Foster. "Very talented, musically. She played the flute, violin, and guitar."

Foster holds memories close to her heart.

"She was really amazing. Super smart. Funny," she said. "She taught me how to swim, she got me into running."

Foster also holds on to hope that the person who murdered her sister will finally be brought to justice. On April 23, 1978, Valerie was found dead at the Harry K. Brown Park in Kalapana, Hawaii.

"We want this to end. We don't want this to be lingering forever," she said. "Having it solved will give some closure, but obviously, it doesn't change what happened."

Valerie was living on the San Francisco Peninsula in El Granada at the time.

"She wanted to go on vacation in Hawaii. Her boyfriend wasn't able to go at the time. She was very independent, so she just decided to go. She loved hiking," Foster said. "She was just a passionate person who really dove into life. That was why she was in Hawaii. She wanted to do what she wanted to do - hike, see beautiful things, play her flute, enjoy life and meet people."

The case was cold for decades. But now, detectives are actively investigating it once again.

"We had some recent developments in the case," said Derek Morimoto, a detective with the Hawaii Police Department. "We have identified a suspect, and the case is being forwarded to the prosecutor's office."

Even though it's been 43 years since the murder, Morimoto says investigators are hoping new information to help the investigation will come up.

"I know it's been so long - four decades - but, someone may remember something about her or may have had contact with her on the island that may be insignificant to them, but it may be significant to the case," Morimoto said. "Our goal is to find closure for the family. They've been waiting for a long time. We hope we can get to that, soon."

He says this case bears some similarities with another murder case.

"There are some similarities with another case here that happened at that time, obviously we looked at that and we are still looking into that," he said.

Longtime family friend Sandy Wieder hopes the case will come to a close sooner rather than later.

"Nothing is going to bring Val back. But closure is an important thing," she said. "There really aren't words. I would just love to see the case closed."

Foster is ready for this long chapter of life to find its ending, so she can move on to the next one - with her sister Valerie always in her heart.

"I know it's been a long time. It's been 43 years. But, there are people here alive and well that loved her, cared about her, and will never forget her," she said.

HPD urges anyone who may have encountered Ms. Warshay during her stay on island, or who has information about her death, to contact Detective Derek Morimoto of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2380 or via email at, or call the police department's non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

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