September 16, 2020 at 6:54 am #529
I had a surprise conversation yesterday with a person who knew Wilho and Evelyn Hakari. I thought I’d jot down my notes here. If you have any questions that you’d like me to ask this person, just let me know. She said she’s happy to talk more about the Hakari family and the Finnish community in general.
The person I talked to is named Aila S. She and her late husband immigrated to the United States in 1971. They left Finland and first settled in the Bahamas for eight years. Then they went to Bellevue, Washington where her husband worked for Boeing. After being laid off, they went to Sacramento because they could find good work there.
Aila became acquainted with the Hakari family through the Finlandia Club of Sacramento. In my research, I found that the club was founded in 1970, the same year Judy Hakari was kidnapped and murdered. I asked her about that, and she said the club existed under the name “Finlandia Foundation,” but in 1970 is was reorganized as the Finlandia Club of Sacramento. So, it wasn’t a club that Wilho helped to found in his grief. He was already a member of the club. He eventually served as the club’s president.
I’ve been in touch with CSU Sacramento, trying to find out how many people have benefited from the scholarship that was established in Judy’s name. I still don’t know the answer to that, but I now know that the Finlandia Club has been donating to the scholarship all this time. According to Aila, the club stopped contributing, but she doesn’t know how long ago they stopped. I’ll keep following-up with CSUS until I get some numbers on how many nursing students have benefited from the scholarship.
Speaking of nursing students, Aila told me that she has a granddaughter who is a nurse. In the early days of her career, Aila worried about her while she worked the late shifts. The tale of what happened to Judy had her frightened that the same thing would happen to her granddaughter.
When I asked questions about Wilho and Evelyn, she told me that she and her late husband used to spend time with them up at their summer house in Lake Tahoe. She said that Wilho loved to fish and was a good cook. She said he was a “funny person,” and that he never lost his sense of humor. He had lots of stories, she said. Even after Wilho lost his wife to a heart attack while they were vacationing in Mexico in 1986, he remained a happy person.
It appears that none of us escape life without some personal tragedy. it’s up to us to decide if we’ll be happy or not. Wilho decided to stay positive.
Aila gave me the name of a person who I need to speak to. I won’t name him here, but he was and is still close to the Hakari family. I now have his contact info and will reach out to see if he’s willing to speak to me about the case. I imagine that it’s still painful to think back to those days, but Aila encouraged me to reach out to him and to use her name so he knows how I learned about him. I’ll report back anything I find out.
In other news, Rick and I sent a list of questions to Paige Kneeland of the Sacramento Sheriff’s Cold Case office. Paige has been great to give us any information she can. When she can’t she simply tells us she’s withholding that for official reasons. Here are the questions we asked, and the answers we got back:
Question: Did Judith Ann Hakari bank at Wells Fargo? (I asked this question to see if we can find and intersection with another case we’re working on: Denise Kathleen Anderson)
Answer: “I have not come across anything indicating where she banked.”
Note: I’m going to ask my new contact, should he be willing to talk to me, if he knows the answer to that question.
Question: There has been some speculation that Judith Hakari wasn’t sexually assaulted. We’ve seen reports that she was “sexually molested” in the newspaper. Was she raped?
Answer: “The newspaper articles from the time do state she was sexually assaulted, however, as we review the case today, we cannot be certain of that fact due to the post mortem interval.”
Note: “Post mortem interval” is the time between the death of the victim and the time she was discovered.
Question: We’ve read, “Chemist-agents of the State bureau of identification and investigation were trying to help [investigators] get answers.” Was DNA evidence found and collected? If so, what is the state of that evidence?
Answer: “I can’t comment on the status of any DNA evidence at this time”
Note: There have been reports from several other podcaster and web sleuths that DNA evidence wasn’t found. We’ve also read that it definitely was found. So, we’re trying to find out the answer to this question. As detectives were more open with the family back then than they are today (see next answer), maybe my new contact might know? I’ll try to ask him that.
Question: Are there any documents that were shared with members of the press back then that you could share with us now?
Answer: “Documents shared with the press – if there were any documents shared, I am not sure what they would have been”
Note: Bummer. I’d really like to get my hands of documents other than news reports.
Question: Are there any details about the abduction and murder of Judith Ann Hakari that were held back that, after 50 years, could be released now?
Answer: “Details previously held back – again – let me look into this. Unfortunately, back in the 70’s, detectives were usually MORE open with details than we are today, so I don’t believe there was much holdback. I am usually shocked when I read old newspaper articles at all the details they released which we would never release today.”
Note: Very interesting how times have changed. We definitely don’t want to hinder the investigation in any way, but we also want to get to the truth. So, we’ll try to find another way to find out more than we have.
Question: Was Judy Hakari’s coat ever found? We didn’t see that either included or excluded in news reports.
Answer: “Her coat: there was a coat found in the grave site.”
Note: I know that a grey zipper sweatshirt was found, but this is the first I’m hearing about a coat. I’ll try to get Paige to verify that it was the blue polka-dotted coat that Judy was wearing.
Question: We’ve read that her purse was never found. Is it safe to assume that if someone were going through “grandpa’s old stuff,” that if they found an old Judith Hakari driver’s license, it would likely point to the killer. I guess in this scenario, the killer may have taken a trophy. If this is the case, were there other items in her purse that could have been kept as a trophy? Credit cards, family photos, keepsakes, etc.?
Answer: “I believe her purse was never discovered, obviously we can’t be certain of its contents, but let me confirm that.”
Note: Glad to have this detail confirmed. Maybe there’s more on what might have been inside?
I asked one other question relating to the bag Judith Ann Hakari was found in. She said she’s going to talk to her partner and supervisor before she says anything about that.
One other question I’m considering asking is whether or not the Hakari family frequented the theater in Sacramento. Again, I’m trying to find intersections between Judith Ann Hakari’s case and the case of Denise Kathleen Anderson. If I’m able to talk to the contact that Aila said I should talk to, I’ll ask him that.
One other possible contact is a 92-year-old member of the Finlandia Club that Aila said knew the Hakari family well, and was in town when it all went down. Aila said she’s sharp and has a good memory. It just depends on if she’s willing and able to talk to me over the phone. If not, maybe she’ll be willing to speak to Rick in person.
- This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Gavin Fish.
- This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Gavin Fish. Reason: Added links to Denise's case page. Also added formatting to question/answer
- This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Gavin Fish. Reason: spell check
- This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Gavin Fish. Reason: one more spell check
- This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Gavin Fish. Reason: One more spelling correction. I really need to get better at this
- This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Gavin Fish.
September 17, 2020 at 10:23 am #535Craig RhodesParticipant
Hi Gavin, Just wanted to say that it is great news that you are corresponding with Sacramento Sheriff’s Cold Case office. It may be worth inquiring as to what the Composite sketch of the third person looked like, I mention this as only sketches of two possible suspects were released. Obviously we know that their were in fact three people seen at the burial site ? Also was there anymore information on the car seen at her burial site and the two cars which police found suspicious on the night of her murder ?
September 18, 2020 at 7:32 am #542
Since I first read in the Sacramento Bee the announcement that a scholarship was being set up in Judith Ann Hakari’s name at Sac State, I’ve been trying to get information as to what kind of an impact the scholarship has had. The college and university system in the US has been really shaken up since March of this year, so I didn’t expect to get the information quickly. My expectations were met.
This morning I received a welcome email from Brian L. Blomster, Director of News and Communications at Sac State. He told me that the Judith Ann Hakari Scholarship is awarded to two to three nursing students each year. From 2008 to 2021, 30 scholarships were awarded totaling $71,381. The awards have varied depending on available funds and the students’ tuition and fees charges.
My simple math extrapolates the following, based on the very little data I have.
Somewhere between 100 and 150 nursing students have benefitted from the scholarship. I believe that number to be around 115.
Somewhere around $190,000 dollars has been awarded. If I adjust for inflation based on a calculator I found online, the amount would be about $325,000.
It’s unclear to me where all the money came from. However, I did find an invitation in the Sacramento Bee asking people to donate. I also know the sale of Judy’s car went to the scholarship fund. That was $2,250, the equivalent of about $14,440 today. At the time the car was sold, there was already about $2,000 in the scholarship fund. Making a total of $4,250 ($27,275 or so in today’s money) that we know about in the fund when it first started. That was probably enough money to help pay some tuition and fees for about eight students.
As I said in my first post after speaking with Aila S., she told me the Finlandia Club of Sacramento had donated to the scholarship each year, but they stopped donating some time ago. She didn’t remember when. I’m hopeful that there is enough in the scholarship fund to keep it going, or that the Finlandia Club of Sacramento will reconsider and resume making payments toward the scholarship fund.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.