After being threatened for failing to repay a drug debt for methamphetamine “fronted” by a dealer with a reputation for violence and the martial arts skills to back it up, 24-year old Dayson “Dace” Kaae agreed to rob an illegal game room near the Don Quijote store on Kaheka Street, not far from Ala Moana Center. 

On Oct. 15, 2017, Kaae entered the game room and pulled out a handgun, according to a news broadcast at the time. 

It didn’t go well. Kaae lost his gun when tackled by one of the game room guards, and suffered head injuries in the scuffle that followed. He was taken to a hospital, and then arrested for terroristic threatening and a firearms violation. He was later released after witnesses refused to cooperate with prosecutors.

Five weeks later, Kaae attempted a second robbery, this time of a Kailua tattoo shop. Kaae entered the store with a second man, and punched and kicked the store owner, who then pulled a small knife and stabbed Kaae several times. The two men fled to a waiting car with two others inside, but police responding to the scene found Kaae dead in the getaway car, which had been abandoned a block away.

Aloha Tattoo Company located at 318 Kuulei Road.
Newly released court records include a story about a 2017 robbery gone bad at the Aloha Tattoo Co. in Kailua. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

At the time, Kaae’s family and friends told reporters they were just trying to make sense of what had happened. They wondered who was with him at the tattoo shop, who else was involved, and what he was doing there.

It’s been nearly five years, and the story of the drug debt and two attempted robberies that eventually led to Kaae’s death can finally be pieced together from details contained in federal court records that have only recently become publicly available, prior written plea agreements with defendants who have already pleaded guilty, as well as published accounts and public records.

Meth Now, Pay Later

Kaae had reason to fear retaliation by the drug dealer, Jacob “Jake” Smith, although both young men were 24 at the time and were friends.

Smith had already earned a reputation for violence, and was part of a sprawling racketeering and drug-trafficking conspiracy allegedly controlled and directed by former Honolulu business owner Michael J. Miske Jr., which prosecutors refer to as the Miske Enterprise. 

Jacob “Jake” Smith is one of the defendants in the federal case against Mike Miske. State of Hawaii

Smith had been trained beginning as a child in Tae Kwon Do and kickboxing in a martial arts center in Kaneohe operated by his father. Prosecutors say Smith had been recruited sometime in 2015 by Miske’s half-brother, John Stancil, to take part in robberies of rival drug dealers. A longtime associate told FBI investigators that Smith “robbed people and distributed drugs as a primary way to earn income.”

In December 2016, the FBI felt they had “probable cause” to believe Smith had taken part in the kidnapping and murder of 21-year old Jonathan Fraser earlier that same year as part of a murder-for-hire scheme funded and directed by Miske. 

However, Smith pleaded guilty in November 2020, and the Fraser murder is not mentioned in the plea agreement negotiated with prosecutors.

Miske and 10 co-defendants, including Stancil, were named in a 22-count federal indictment made public in July 2020, with charges ranging from conspiracy to violate federal racketeering laws, kidnapping and murder-for-hire, assault, use of a dangerous chemical as a weapon, conspiracy to distribute drugs (including methamphetamine, marijuana and oxycodone), armed robbery and bank fraud. 

Two more defendants were added a year later. Six of the co-defendants have already pleaded guilty, all but five acknowledging they were part of Miske’s racketeering organization.

Smith and at least six others were charged separately, and have also pleaded guilty, admitted to being members or associates of the Miske Enterprise, and are expected to testify against Miske and other former associates when the case goes to trial in April.

The Game Room

According to Smith’s November 2020 plea agreement filed in federal court, an unnamed friend owed Smith “a substantial amount of money” for methamphetamine Smith had “fronted” to him.

Although the plea agreement does not name the friend, Smith’s description matches news accounts of the unsuccessful game room robbery, which identified Kaae after he was arrested at the scene.

“Smith began to pressure the friend to find a way to pay him back and threatened physical harm if he did not do so. In response, Smith’s friend proposed to rob an illegal game room near the Don Quijote supermarket in Honolulu,” according to the plea agreement.

This photo of Dayson Kaae was posted on Facebook after he died. 

Smith gave Kaae a semi-automatic pistol, and then Kaae and another unidentified associate entered the game room while Smith and another person watched from across the street.

When the incident ended in Kaae’s arrest, the outstanding drug debt remained unpaid and continued to be a problem for Kaae.

At The Salon

Several weeks later, Smith and Kaae were seen together in Kakaako.

On Nov. 2, 2017, the owner of a Honolulu car dealership spotted a Mercedes Benz e350 sedan that had been stolen a month before. The car was now parked outside the Bliss salon and barbershop on Kamakee Street, according to an April 2018 affidavit by Gery Graham, special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Graham’s affidavit was filed in support of a search warrant for two cell phones believed to have been used by Smith. It is among 47 search warrants and related documents recently unsealed and made public for the first time by order of federal Judge Derrick Watson. The documents were made public following a legal challenge to their continued secrecy by the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest.

According to Graham’s affidavit, the dealer parked nearby, and saw a man, later identified as Jacob Smith, “exit the Bliss Salon and push the key fob to the Mercedes,” and then saw the car’s lights blink. 

Smith then noticed the dealer nearby, looked at him, locked the Mercedes and walked back inside.

Later, another man, identified as Kaae, was seen coming out of the Bliss salon, and checking out the dealer, who was still nearby, then going back inside.

Police were called. They interviewed the car dealer, then spoke briefly with Kaae and Smith. The two men both “denied knowing anything about the Mercedes.”

The responding officers then searched the car. In the trunk, they found a Street Sweeper 12-gauge shotgun, along with a receipt from Louis Vuitton which included the customer’s name, Jake Smith. ATF agents were then able to retrieve surveillance video from the Louis Vuitton store at Ala Moana Center which showed Smith and another man buying items at the time indicated on the receipt.

Aloha Tattoo

Several weeks after Smith and Kaae met at the Bliss Salon, two men entered the Aloha Tattoo Co. store in Kailua. It was late in the afternoon of Nov. 27, 2017, the Monday following Thanksgiving. 

Kaae was in the lead, with Smith coming in the door behind him.

John Stancil is Mike Miske’s half brother and also a co-defendant in the federal racketeering case. Hawaii News Now

“Smith was wearing a black and white skull mask and appeared to be video recording Kaae’s interaction with CW5 using a cellular phone,” according to Graham’s affidavit. 

The person identified in the affidavit only as CW5 was the store’s owner, Tim Goodrich, who was identified in news reports at the time.

“Kaae then punched CW5 in the face without warning. Kaae followed up the initial blow with additional kicks and punches,” according to the affidavit. 

At that point, Goodrich pulled the knife from his pocket and stabbed Kaae “several times.”

Goodrich was arrested at the scene on suspicion of second-degree murder after the stabbing, according to news reports.

Honolulu attorney Myles Breiner said Goodrich, a former Marine, had a legal, 3-inch knife in his pocket when Kaae attacked him. Goodrich was quickly released after a preliminary investigation determined he had acted in self-defense, according to news stories at the time.

According to Graham’s account, Kaae and Smith ran to a gold 1999 Toyota Camry sedan, where two others were waiting. One of those was later identified as John Stancil, Mike Miske’s half-brother and co-defendant in the pending federal case. When the Camry was found abandoned nearby, it was seized by police as evidence.

Another confidential witness later told the FBI that after the Camry was disabled, Smith called a woman he was then dating, who picked up Smith, Stancil, and another person from the area before responding police officers reached the scene. Phone records confirmed a call was made from a phone used by Smith to his friend at the time of the incident, according to the affidavit.

After obtaining a search warrant, investigators from the FBI and ATF went through the Camry and found a black and white skull mask, like the one reportedly worn by Smith, a pair of black gloves, a black baton, 9mm bullets, and the barrel of a .45 caliber handgun, along with several pieces of correspondence addressed to Stancil. 

CW5, aka Goodrich, told investigators “a possible motive for the assault and attempted robbery was Miske’s apparent investment in a competing tattoo shop in Kaneohe,” according to the affidavit.

Goodrich also told investigators he believed Smith was recording the initial assault “in order to obtain payment for the act from another party, possibly Miske or his associates.”

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About the Author

  • Ian Lind
    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.