Thirty-three-year-old Paul Salazar had an entrepreneurial drive and a strong work ethic, and when he applied these traits to his small rental car business and his job as a taxi driver, he was able to establish a modest savings account for himself and wife Virginia. People who knew Paul say he was a trusting and caring person with a warm smile and deep brown sparkling eyes that reflected his zeal for life and love for his family. Virginia, who worked as a dental assistant, had been married to Paul just 3 years, but they were happily building a life together, building a future.

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That is until 5 p.m. on April 5, 1999, when Keith Murauskas, a ruthless criminal with numerous violent felony convictions, came crashing into their Honolulu apartment with his 400 pound accomplice, Edward “Wally” Martin, to carry out their meticulous plan to murder and dismember the couple. Murauskas, who was on parole, had committed multiple violent armed robberies in the 1980s for which he was sentenced to two terms of 20 years in prison, one term of 14 years in prison and life in prison with the possibility of parole. But the Hawaii Paroling Authority released him in November 1993 within 10 years before he even completed one 20-year term.

The motive for the planned double murder and dismemberment of both Paul and Virginia, as his accomplice later admitted to police and prosecutors, was to conceal another armed robbery. Murauskas needed cash, but was determined not to return to jail. He figured by murdering the couple, he could steal their money, take their cars and sell them and disappear without a trace. Murauskas brought with him to the home two bags that held a hacksaw, sledgehammer, carpenter’s hammer, large hunting knife, extra blades, crow bar, pliers, goggles, tarp, black trash bags, respirator, duct tape, nylon cord, gloves, and a ski mask. Murauskas knew Paul because he’d rented a car from him — he even owed Paul money for that rental — and that is the bait Murauskas used to get Paul to open his door on what would become the last horrific, painful moments of Paul’s life.

Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Van Marter, who prosecuted the case, says Paul died from a combination of blunt force trauma to the head and multiple stab wounds to vital internal organs. The medical examiner documented more than 25 separate injuries including a large gaping hole in the back of his head that cracked through his skull and exposed his brain. Six of his ribs were fractured. His head was nearly decapitated by one of 13 severe stab wounds, including one that ripped through his heart and two others that punctured his lungs. It took Paul nearly 30 minutes through the continuous assaults to die. Police report that when they arrived at the couple’s home, they saw blood dripping from the walls, spattered on the furniture, and soaked in the bed linen in the bedroom. They ultimately found Paul, lifeless, face down in a pool of blood, his wrists, ankles, and knees bound with duct tape, gagged with his own underwear, and his screams muffled by his own bedroom pillow. Virginia’s life was only spared because she came home from work that evening later than usual. She knows this is the case because the accomplice, Martin, called 9-1-1 after bashing Paul’s skull at least six times with a hammer and confessed to the crime.

Hawaii

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