Man accused of arson, kidnapping and sex assault appears in court

  • JUSTIN BARDWELL

HILO — The 32-year-old suspect in an arson last month of a vacation rental home in the Volcano Golf and Country Club subdivision in Volcano appeared in court Monday for that and several unrelated offenses.

Justin Michael Bardwell is charged with first-degree arson for the bizarre Nov. 17 incident at the residence on Pukeawe Street.

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Rental agent Jeff Dale told the Tribune-Herald last month the incident was “pretty disturbing.” He said the suspect “took some propane tanks that were on the outside of the house for the fireplace into the house” and thought the perpetrator might be “trying to set it up so that the house would explode.”

Dale also said the suspect “took some paint and threw paint on windows.”

“There’s some paint all over the floor. Just very disturbing,” he said.

The house fire came three days after the main commercial building containing the pro shop, clubhouse and restaurant at nearby Volcano Golf and Country Club was heavily damaged by an early morning fire.

In addition, Bardwell is charged with kidnapping, fourth-degree sexual assault, open lewdness and second-degree terroristic threatening, all of which allegedly took place Friday in Kona.

According to the complaint, Bardwell exposed himself to two adult women, restrained one of them and threatened the other. The document doesn’t specify where, specifically, the alleged incident occurred, but Bardwell was arrested Friday at the Old Airport Park in Kailua-Kona.

Kona District Judge Margaret Masunaga maintained Bardwell’s total bail at $31,750 and set two preliminary hearing dates for him — at 9:30 a.m. today in Kona District Court for the Friday incident and at 2 p.m. Thursday in Hilo District Court for the Nov. 17 arson.

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Kidnapping and first-degree arson are Class A felonies punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment upon conviction. The other charges are misdemeanors and petty misdemeanors.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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