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Suspect arrested after early-morning stabbings in Hilo

Updated: 
May 24, 2014 - 6:10am

A woman who witnessed part of an early Friday morning stabbing in Wainaku said she was working on adrenaline to try to help the victim survive.

Cody Hughes, a neighbor to the 49-year-old Ohai Street man she referred to only as “John,” said she and her friend rushed to the driveway stabbing scene as it was occurring around midnight.

“Craig leaped over the fence and I ran around the fence,” Hughes said. “John was down. By the time we got to him (the assailant) was still stabbing him, so Craig tried to push the guy off. And when he did, the guy took off.”

Police arrested a suspect, 28-year-old Varaha Mims, at 7:36 a.m. Friday, on suspicion of three counts of attempted first-degree murder. Police say Mims, who is also the suspect in the stabbing of a 28-year-old Pahoa man and a 27-year-old Hilo woman on Keawe Street near Hilo Town Tavern just minutes earlier, was at the home of an acquaintance when arrested.

Mims remained in custody at the Hilo police cellblock Friday as detectives investigated the stabbings.

Hughes said she was covered in blood and “running back and forth to get blankets and whatever I could to help John out.”

“I was yelling for people to call the rescue … and give me a towel,” she said. “I don’t think they understood what I was asking for, a towel. So I took my shirt off and that was the first thing that we used. It was really a horribly gaping wound. … All we could do was put pressure on it and wait for the ambulance to show up.”

Hughes said the victim and Mims knew each other, and police referred to them as acquaintances.

“He did punch the victim last week in Keaau,” Lt. Robert Wagner of Hilo Criminal Investigative Division confirmed. “It does seem that the victim … may not have wanted to prosecute.”

Police say the Wainaku man was taken to Hilo Medical Center where he was listed in stable condition Friday. The Pahoa man was listed in critical condition. The woman was treated and released.

Hilo Patrol Sgt. Lorenzo Artienda said the Wainaku stabbing occurred “within minutes” after the man and woman were stabbed near the Hilo Town Tavern.

“The stabbing wasn’t in the Tavern. It just happened to happen outside the Tavern,” said bartender Rebecca Lake.

“Somebody came in and yelled, ‘Call 911. Somebody’s been stabbed,’” she said. “Then somebody else came in asking for a towel, saying there was blood, that kind of thing.”

Tavern owner Issa Hilweh said nobody saw the Haili Street attack other than the assailant and the victims.

“It happened really fast,” he said. “Luckily, we had two nurses at the Tavern at the time and they came out and helped.”

Hilweh said security gave chase but the assailant got away.

“I guess the two were walking (toward Haili Street) and the guy was walking toward Kalakaua Park. And I guess he just stabbed them without any words or anything,” Hilweh said.

“There’s nothing in our investigation that leads us to believe that they knew this suspect,” Wagner said.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.