Search for Ireland’s killer continues



Hawaii County’s police chief and prosecuting attorney issued separate statements late Thursday afternoon saying they will be steadfast in their quest to bring to justice the man who left DNA on several pieces of key evidence in the 1991 rape and murder of Dana Ireland.

The written statements by Prosecutor Kelden Waltjen and Chief Ben Moszkowicz were issued in the wake of Tuesday’s decision by Hilo Circuit Judge Peter Kubota to overturn the conviction of Albert “Ian” Schweitzer.


The 51-year-old Puna man was one of three men convicted in 2000 of second-degree murder, kidnapping and first-degree sexual assault for the fatal attack on Ireland on Christmas Eve 1991 in lower Puna.

Ian Schweitzer was released from custody after Tuesday’s hearing.

In 2018, Mayor Mitch Roth, then county prosecutor, entered a conviction integrity agreement with the Hawaii Innocence Project to revisit the convictions in the Ireland case. Waltjen, who was elected prosecutor in 2020 when Roth became the island’s chief executive, continued the joint information-sharing agreement with HIP.

Waltjen said his office “takes conviction integrity seriously.”

“Over the last three years, we have shared information and reexamined the forensic evidence given the technological advancements since the 2000 trial,” he said. “I appreciate the hard work of our prosecutors, police, victim advocates and staff who have assisted with these post-conviction proceedings. I also want to acknowledge the work of the Hawaii Innocence Project and express my appreciation for their professionalism throughout these proceedings.”

Moszkowicz acknowledged the public’s interest in finding the unidentified man who left DNA on Ireland’s body with a genetic code that doesn’t match any of the three men convicted in her case. That DNA also was present on Ireland’s underwear, in semen on the gurney sheet Ireland was lying on in the hospital, and on the blue “Jimmy Z” brand T-shirt stained with Ireland’s blood that was allegedly worn by her likely assailant.

That man has been dubbed “Unknown Male No. 1.”

Moszkowicz said his department “has never stopped trying to identify” that individual and “has used additional DNA testing over the years to exclude numerous potential persons of interest.”

Waltjen said his office “remains committed to identifying” the man whose DNA was left at the scene “and seeking justice for Dana Ireland and her ‘ohana.”

Moszkowicz said police “will continue to use new technologies to help not only identify” the individual “but to determine what his role may have been in this heinous crime.”

The 23-year-old Ireland, a Springfield, Va., native who had recently moved to Puna to be with her sister, Sandy, died at Hilo Medical Center a few hours after the attack. Her murder garnered national attention and remained unsolved for years, putting intense pressure on police to find the killer.

Schweitzer, the last of three Native Hawaiian men imprisoned for the fatal assault on Ireland, had spent roughly half his life behind bars before the evidentiary hearing Kubota said exonerated him, his younger brother, Shawn Schweitzer, and Frank Pauline Jr.

The younger Schweitzer — who was a teenager when the crime occurred but would’ve been tried as an adult — made a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to manslaughter. He was released from custody with no further jail time.

Pauline, who like Ian Schweitzer was sentenced to life imprisonment, was killed on his 42nd birthday in a New Mexico prison by another inmate. His death came a day after Big Island newspapers reported that the Hawaii Innocence Project had agreed to represent Schweitzer.

Ken Lawson, HIP’s co-director, said after Tuesday’s hearing that the imprisonment of the Schweitzers and Pauline were the product of a “wrongful conviction.” Neither Waltjen nor Moszkowicz addressed that possibility in their statements.

On Thursday, Lawson thanked Roth and Waltjen for their willingness to share information with HIP as part of the conviction integrity process.

“We’ve made a commitment to them, to the court — especially to our client,” Lawson said. “We want to find out who did this. And I think, maybe, we can continue to meet together. … Kelden has been extremely serious about following up on leads, I think. Some of them have been dead ends. But I think you have to follow the evidence. There are a couple of people who could be viable suspects.”

Lawson said the Innocence Project organization and law enforcers “may have disagreed on whether or not there’s a fourth person or there’s just one person” who attacked Ireland.

“But what was always agreed upon is that there’s an unknown male who definitely did this. And so everybody needs to find him.”

Email John Burnett at

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