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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 27, 2010

Man accused in cold-case murder confessed in 2008

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Jason Lee McCormick

Honolulu Police photo

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Jason Lee McCormick, the man accused last week in a 14-year-old murder case, confessed to the crime in August 2008, telling police he "had a vision" of the homicide, defense lawyer Michael Green said this morning.

McCormick, 36, is charged with second-degree murder in the July 1996 of visiting University of Pittsburgh professor Robert Henderson.

McCormick was arraigned on the charge this morning in Circuit Court via a video link to Oahu Community Correctional Center, where he is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.

He pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Green said McCormick has a history of mental and alcohol abuse problems and first confessed to the Henderson murder to medical personnel and police when he was being treated in 2008 at The Queen's Medical Center's Kekela Ward.

"They didn't believe him, so when he was released he went straight to police and confessed again," Green said.

McCormick knew details of the Henderson murder that had not been released publicly, the lawyer said.

He could not explain why police and prosecutors took nearly two more years to bring the murder charge.

"It's a very interesting case," Green said. "It's the kind of thing they make movies out of."

Henderson, 51, was in Hawaii attending a linguistics symposium at the University of Hawaii-Manoa and was last seen leaving the campus July 12, 1996.

His decomposed body was found five days later in an apartment at the Ilikai Hotel.

Police said at the time that writing scrawled on Henderson's body indicated that the killer thought Henderson molested children.

The victim's brother, Michael Henderson, traveled to Hawaii several times seeking the public's help in solving the crime.

Michael Henderson has rejected the suggestion that his brother was a pedophile and has said he believed the motive was robbery.

"We can't find two of his jeweled watches that we think he took with him on his trip," he said in 1996. "We also can't account for a money clip he always carried with him."

Michael Henderson said in a statement after McCormick was indicted last week that the family "is relieved to learn that a suspect in this crime has been apprehended."

Robert Henderson "achieved so much during his short 51 years and would have contributed so much more if his life hadn't ended so senselessly," Michael Henderson said.