Hawaii police reopen an investigation on the case of the brutal killing of a Bay Area woman 40 years ago.
The case involves the 26-year-old Valeria Ann Warshay who had just finished her master’s degree in exercise physiology from Columbia. She relocated to California and lived in El Granada close to Half Moon Bay for a job offer with the state park system. A hiking enthusiast, Warshay went to Hawaii for a hiking trip, SFGATE reported.
“She was a crazy fanatic hiker, a very physical sort of person,” Warshay’s boyfriend shared to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald during that time. “We hiked the entire coast from where we are in Santa Cruz and god knows how many miles through the mountains.”
Warshay went on a solo trip and arrived on the Big Island in March of 1978. She gained several acquaintances and enjoyed her time around Hilo where she spent the day hiking the Mauna Loa and other tourist areas and at night, at a campsite at Harry K. Brown Park in Kalapana.
The Tribune-Herald reported that she was with her new friends on the night of April 22 at Kamoamoa. They joined a “jam session for music lovers” and Warshay went back to her campsite at 10 in the evening. Two men approached her, inviting her to stay with them but Warshay refused.
Then, the next morning, Warshay was found dead by a young girl at her campsite. She was not wearing her clothes anymore, had serious hits on her head, while her personal belongings were recovered nearby.
Hawaii media said in 1980 that the law enforcers were certain they had solved the case. As the Tribune-Herald puts it: “Police feel certain they know who killed Warshay” and “Their suspect has since been convicted in another murder of a young woman and is serving a life sentence in Oahu Prison.”
The police identified the suspect as a certain Stephen Ray Simpsom who was never placed on trial in connection to Warshay’s murder but was found guilty of choking another woman victim named Mary Catherine Drapp.
Police in Hawaii is currently looking for fresh leads in Warshay’s killing. Those who have information regarding the case or met the victim during her trip are requested to reach Detective Derek Morimoto at 808-961-2380. His email address at Derek.Morimoto@hawaiicounty.gov is also open for any report. Anonymous reports are also welcome through the Crime Stoppers number at 808-961-8300.