Hanged in Paradise, the Life and Death of Myles Fukunaga

Nov 18, 2016

Credit Oahu Community Correction Center
Credit Joel Abroad / Flickr

One of the last and most notable executions to take place in Hawai‘i occurred 87 years ago tomorrow.   The case attracted national attention and divided ethnic communities.

In September of 1928… Myles Fukunaga confessed to abducting and killing 10-year-old George Gill Jamieson, the son of a prominent white businessman.  He told police he wanted to use the ransom money to send his parents back to Japan….and save them from a life of poverty in Hawaii.

He also said he targeted the son of his family’s landlord the Hawaiian Trust Co. who was threatening to evict his family. Fukunaga was caught while trying to spend some of the $4,000 in ransom money and after a brief trial, was hung in O‘ahu Prison.

The case became a focus for a broader story about racial tension in Hawai‘i and according to historians, exposed the racial and economic divide between Japanese Americans and White Americans.  Jonathan Y. Okamura is a professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UH Mānoa.  He says the story of Myles Fukunaga became a larger example of the invisible line that separated class and ethnicity during that time.

Fukunaga is buried in the Mō‘ili‘ili Japanese cemetery under a distinctive red colored rock.  Capital punishment was outlawed in Hawai‘i in 1957. 

Full interview with professor Jonathan Y. Okamura: