Home Books An Essay On Kevin Ernst’s Murder By J.P. Hill

An Essay On Kevin Ernst’s Murder By J.P. Hill

An Essay On Kevin Ernst’s Murder By J.P. Hill


In “The Part That Ends”, J.P. HILL, Kevin Ernst’s nephew, examines his murder on the streets of Wailuku, in Maui County. 


The easiest things in the life: the things which occur which we have already accepted would happen but man this was different….

When two cops show up at your front door. The good ole boys in blue, you know, the type, local heroes every little maggot is talking about defunding. Still, this was before the whole movement hit the trail and chose many a path. Yet, this tale was a fact of life and shall be treated as such. It was four years previous, you feel me and making it long before any movement or masking for the truth about the real bitter edge we face.

This is the day after my Uncle’s murder.

Kihei (pronounced Key-Hey) is a city just along the border where the water meets the earth on the great island of Maui. A pun if there ever was one. We lived there. A small apartment complex by main land standards and rightly so. Land is premium in Maui. Everything is premium. From the cost of living to the cost of not surrendering a pack of smokes to a man suffering from attributes which contribute to violent acts.

When the doorbell rang: figuring it was a local friend my Mother answered the door with vigor. We had many friends on Maui and rightly so. We were the laid back kind of folks which encompassed the title of “locals” on The Island and that is a title handed down even when we merely visited. So, we had lived there for nine years running and were juiced in with the main line of residents of ages old.

But I’m losing the point. Scatter brained and broken down and why not? This is no story of fiction my fine reader of the words I type. No. This is the story, as best I can tell it, about my Uncle, Kevin Ernst.


The officer’s (one full blooded Hawaiian and the secondary who said little was white with overtones of sun burned sentiment. One Native and The Other a recent transplant.) stood in the doorway. They came in without much bother but their expressions indicated the purpose at hand.

Allow me to back track. My Uncle was, for all purposes, an alcoholic and homeless on The Streets of Wailuku (pronounce Why-A-Loo-Koo) a small town which served as the hub of our governing district. This was also the stomping grounds of much of our homeless population. It was close to government buildings which offered The Systems many benefits handed down by tax payers and the like.

My Uncle was, for all purposes, an alcoholic and homeless on The Streets of Wailuku…

My Uncle was no stranger to these programs. He was mentally challenged and physically impaired. He utilized a walker and which each step waddled as if a drunken penguin on the move. He was slow in so many respects but that doesn’t make Him the right to have been a target.


The Officer’s don’t take a seat, despite the fact; we have two chairs and one couch in the living room just within the entrance into our apartment. They stand and deliver the message we never began to expect.

We always believed it would be complications related to alcoholism which would be the end game for Kevin. Too much liquid courage and succumb to that bitter edge we talked about and rightly so. His liver was fubar and many other issues pertaining to the prediction of His death.

But this would be different.

Police Officer’s rarely offer stories in full pertaining to murder investigations and rightly so. Many people have pie holes that must be shut long before they spew facts forth and turn everything into a cluster. Then there is “Those whom deal in drama” and enjoy attention no matter the circumstance.

We had a couple of family members who would do just that.

Not my Mom and myself though. We were honest folk don’t get me wrong but as my Mother’s Mother once said: the sin of omission is denial without the lie. If someone asks the right questions: no line would be present. Truth is paramount to my Mother and myself but to refrain from retorting in waves was a tidal plain of a fact of matters.

And the depths are deep.


So why tell this story, you may ask dear reader, if I may digress for a paragraph or two. The truth is: I don’t quite know. Maybe it is the fact: Kevin’s murder must not be merely slipped under the rug or maybe it is because you need to know but a good man he truly was and became the victim of violence by and offender hell bent for leather to get from Kevin a solitary item which was but a few bucks at the local store.

The Nail’s of Cancer’s Coffin. The breath of tobacco into the lungs. The viable cause of many ailments pertain to the lungs. Yet, cancer would get neither killer nor victim and that is the damn shame of it.

My Uncle, indicated by the two officer’s and later rebutted by The Primary Detective on the case, had been assaulted by an act of violence few could be able to comprehend and rightly so. Yes and indeed. Fractures. Forms of torture. The note of much blood and violence. Passion without purpose. That of hatred fueled by what excuse who exactly will ever truly know.

We were later told, by The Primary, that many factors contributed to Kevin’s murder. The killer’s addictions. Booze fueled hatred. PTSD (post traumatic stress syndrome) and the malice in a mind scarred by a tour in Iraq to promote Operation Desert Storm.

Oh yes and indeed. Everyone has a line to sell, many even, to stretch out the truth of matters in situations they find themselves in, when subsequently breaking the law and trying to weasel out of it. In this man’s case? Addiction: a choice not an affliction beyond any form of control. Find your boot straps people and awaken to the real world where things are tough and trials are many for us all. Hiding behind Meth and the like is a B.S. line if ever was one. The drink: put it down and pick yourself up. As for PTSD? I myself find this affliction and have yet to kill one of my fellow human beings. It’s been thirty-seven years and running for me. It had been mere years for this poor excuse of a cowardly soul kin to the mess that sticks to your shoe after walking through a grazing pasture.

That is the basic layout of the situation. Unjust attack. Murder. Victim. Most of all things though: the loss of a great man. A man given over easily to humor. A caring soul who, under any circumstance, would offer a helping hand but never a hand out.

That was what His Killer expected. That smug sense of self entitlement. A fiend without conscience. A man of utter damnation without even the small benefit to receive redemption for His crime.

And now we get to that.


Penalties for Murder One: Life in prison. Life without possibility of parole. Death by execution handed down by a judge of general standing in said county or state or even federal backed fate.

In Maui, these things weren’t just so. Easy it is to grasp at straws when dealing with punishment for murder. Three avenues of justice. A detective backing up his investigation. A district attorney laying out the case. A judge or jury handing down a verdict of certainty. This is a justice system set up for victims and their families. Friends and those of blood ties seeking answers and standing ground to make the killer’s suffer. Prison or death. Murder One. End of story.

But not in Maui. In The State of Hawaii: murder one is presented and prosecuted for the following crimes and no others: (1) A Police Officer’s murder in the line of duty. (2) A Judge. (3) A Federal Federal witness. These factors are the basis for such sentences as Life Without Parole and Life with an amount of time required served before parole is possible. We all know: no one is going to parole a cop killer or he whom is responsible for the death of a man baring a cloak in the halls of justice. Witnesses are those whom can make or break a case and hence forth are often presented a to be held responsible, till the day they die, by recommendations handed down by the lawyer who prosecuted the offender and subsequently attends the parole hearing to make this clear.

Cut and dried on the line. That thin margin which represents, if nothing else, where the road takes the depraved being responsible for a murder entire.

But in my Uncle’s Case: Murder in The First Degree would not be the charge handed down for his demise. He would receive justice handed down by a faltered and broken system which held cornerstone in Maui County.

Sixty-Six years. Years till paroled: a few and not many.

This is unacceptable.

This was and is Maui County. Paradise. Euphoric sense of a State known as Hawaii. Beaches and Luau’s. Tan skin, sexy swimsuit attire bore by women and well oiled muscle of conceited men with buff body and no brains. Damn beautiful, right?

Dead wrong.


We have cried for many years. We spot the sense of anger within our beings every day. We have lost two other family members (My Mother and other Uncle) to cancer whom: in their days of suffering heard nothing but lines and saw red tape tied off at the seams in order to blockade the justice sought for many years before their death and to be many years within the spectrum of our remaining families possible life span.

DNA. Prints. Small pieces of proof. Witnesses attesting that all these things can tie the man to my Uncle’s murder. All things entire: yet justice unserved. Three loved ones lost in less than four years. We are those picking up our own shattered lives. Pricked on the splinters and shards. Blood spilled. Tears Fallen. Justice left undone or even said. Three ways to suffer.


So when police hand down information and then walk away. When detectives stop returning your calls. When papers no longer print facts and fates. When social media turns over to silence. Most of all: when we, the family members, give up hope entire, that is when someone truly dies.

Kevin’s memory has been tarnished by these very ways of thinking and fate complete carried out. Yet, dear reader: I hope you may be that shred of hope. That unspoken voice. That which will seek out and help find justice for us. Maybe you saw something. Perhaps, out of the corner of your eye or right before two staring at the actions carried out. Or maybe the fiend has opened his mouth one too many times while hung over or high as a kite. In the end: the winds of change must bring Him down. We must rise above the darkness of night into the bright day of hope and that which we seek without exception.

Justice for Kevin Walter Ernst.

Let this story not be written in vain. Let us find absolution. Let this paragraph not be the last word about Kevin. An Uncle. A Brother. A Son. A Victim. Let this not be the part that ends.


Mystery Tribune’s online archive of critical essays covering a wide range of topics in crime, mystery and thriller are available here.



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