Hairs. Vacuum filters. Swabs of several drains. Sponges. Engine filters. Swabs of handles, sleeping areas, deck gaskets, railings, and the forward compartment. Bilge pump with discharge hose. Rope. A knife. Three swabs from the aft mechanical compartment. Two starboard deck drains. A faucet. A hose segment. Bilge pump with discharge hose. Engine covers. Swab of brown substance. A knife. Two SD memory cards. Marine navigation equipment.
These are among more than 100 items containing possible forensic evidence seized during the FBI’s Aug. 10, 2017 search of a boat allegedly used in the kidnapping and murder of 21-year-old Jonathan Fraser, who suddenly went missing on July 30, 2016. He has not been seen since, and is presumed dead.
The boat, a 37-1/2 foot Boston Whaler model 370 Outrage named “Painkiller,” was moored at Kewalo Basin when it was seized by FBI agents executing a search warrant signed by U.S. Federal Magistrate Judge Kevin S.C. Chang on the afternoon before the raid.
The search warrant authorized “a forensic search and inspection” seeking evidence relating to the involvement of Honolulu businessman Michael Miske Jr. and others, “known and unknown,” in a murder-for-hire plot. Among items named in the warrant were firearms, as well as trace forensic evidence including “biological matter” such as hair, skin, bones, blood, DNA and fingerprints, evidence of those who had been present on the boat, along with the boat’s navigational equipment and any GPS, radar, or tracking data.
Federal prosecutors subsequently identified the apparent victim as Fraser, a close personal friend of Miske’s son, Caleb. Fraser had survived a serious traffic accident in November 2015 in which Caleb was critically injured. Caleb was still hospitalized when he died in March 2016 as a result of complications from his injuries.
The elder Miske publicly blamed Fraser for his son’s death, based on his professed belief Fraser had been driving when the accident happened. However, all available official records, including notes of first responders and medical personnel, clearly identified Caleb as the driver who was trapped in the 1993 two-door Honda Civic sedan until cut free by the fire department’s hydraulic rescue tool.
State boating records show Painkiller was registered to Hawaii Partners LLC. The company also registered five Yamaha jet skis, but those registrations are now expired, according to the state’s online vessel database.
Hawaii Partners was formed in 2011 by Miske and two partners, Jason Yokoyama and Richard Aqui. The three were also partners in Miske’s M Nightclub, a popular but controversial venue that closed in late 2016 after a series of high profile assaults by club staff, resulting in lawsuits, several criminal charges, and an investigation and large fine by the Honolulu Liquor Commission.
Miske also owned and controlled Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control Inc., which prosecutors now allege was used for two decades as a headquarters for criminal activity by Miske and associates.
Miske was arrested in July and charged with a number of crimes, the most serious of which stem from his alleged role in bankrolling and directing the murder-for-hire plot to kill Fraser and dispose of his body. Miske faces a possible life sentence or the death penalty on four separate counts related to the Fraser case: murder in aid of racketeering, murder for hire conspiracy resulting in death, kidnapping using a facility of interstate commerce resulting in death, and conspiracy to commit kidnapping using a facility of interstate commerce.
Ten associates were also arrested and face a variety of other charges including taking part in a racketeering conspiracy, drug and gun-related crimes, armed robbery, and extortion.
Trial in the case is scheduled for late 2021, although it is likely to be continued further into the future.
Painkiller was returned to its owners on May 10, 2018. Months prior to its release, the FBI explained the boat, once valued at more that $450,000, would be returned “as-is,” and was no longer “seaworthy” because of the various parts that were being retained as evidence or pending forensic analysis. The owners were advised that a claim could be filed for reimbursement of damage and the cost of replacement parts and repairs.
The FBI property receipt itemizing electronic components removed from Painkiller and retained by the government was signed by Delia Fabro, Caleb Miske’s wife, as manager of Hawaii Partners and owner of the boat.
There is no indication in the newly disclosed documents of the results of forensic analysis of the items seized from the Painkiller, whether they clearly establish Fraser’s death, or aid in identifying those who took part in the kidnapping and murder.
Ian Lind is an award-winning investigative reporter and columnist who has been blogging daily for more than 20 years. He has also worked as a newsletter publisher, public interest advocate and lobbyist for Common Cause in Hawaii, peace educator, and legislative staffer. Lind is a lifelong resident of the islands. Read his blog here. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views.