Na`alehu businessman Douglas John Fathke, 44, has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of his 8-year-old daughter Kelsie. His bail was set at $550,000, and arraignment is scheduled for today. While the police investigation is ongoing, West Hawaii Today reported that Big Island Mayor Harry Kim disclosed that the suspect had problems with crystal methamphetamine addiction in the past. The shooting has stunned the family’s neighbors as well as the second-grader’s mother, who now lives in Washington.
Kelsie’s mother, 33-year-old Memarie Dhillon, told KITV that her ex-husband had a history of mental illness, but had never been violent.
“He worshipped the ground she walked on, and she did the same for him,” she said. “They had such a special relationship.”
Neighbors in Na`aehu made similar observations to reporters, recalling how father and daughter walked to and from Na`alehu Elementary and Intermediate School every day.
Fathke couldn’t even spank Kelsie when she misbehaved, Dhillon said in an interview with The News Tribune. But, she also said he had a history of mental illness and claimed secret healing gifts so powerful he could not discuss them.
For the last few years, Fathke had managed Becky’s Bed & Breakfast, a small inn near South Point owned by his mother. He previously ran the inn with his sister, Deb, but she reportedly left after a dispute over the inn’s finances.
Fathke and Dhillon lived together in Tacoma for ten years, until they divorced in 1999.
Fathke was arrested Easter Sunday after police responded to a report of gunfire at the inn. Kelsie was found in a bedroom, shot in the head, and pronounced dead later that day at Kona Community Hospital. Police recovered a .30-caliber rifle at the scene.
In addition to the murder charge, Fathke faces counts of terroristic threatening and attempted murder for allegedly trying to choke a 16-year-old California boy who was staying at the inn. Witnesses told reporters they saw him stagger out of the bed and breakfast holding his throat, calling for someone to call police.
Classmates recalled seeing Fathke and his daughter at a neighborhood Easter egg hunt shortly before the shooting. Memorial activities are scheduled for tomorrow.