While searching online for incidents of military crimes in Hawai’i, I came across the following information on a website for the Honolulu City Prosecutor. While the page was basically a resume for Peter Carlisle, it was one of the few entries that turned up on this particular case. William Conklin, a soldier, was convicted for the brutal murder of a prostitute named Tammy Lynn Hayes in 1985. Conklin appealed his sentence, and the case went up to the Hawaii Supreme Court. The Hawaii Supreme Court struck down the appeal in 2003. While the murder took place in 1985, I am entering this post in 2003, since I have no articles from 1985.
State v. Conklin
Verdict: Guilty as charged
Sentence: Life imprisonment
In Waikiki, Honolulu’s world famous tourist destination, police discovered the body of a prostitute on the floor of her apartment. Several days after the killing a soldier named William Conklin came to the police station and claimed he had witnesses the killing. He said he had been a client of Hayes and that her pimp came into her apartment and attacked her. He claimed he hid in the bathroom of the apartment during the killing due to his fear of the pimp. Police officers noticed injuries to Conklin and photographed them. The injuries appeared to be bitemarks. By this time Tammy Hayes’ body had been shipped to her family in Georgia and buried.
Carlisle sent the photographs of Conklin’s injuries to Dr. Norman “Skip” Sperber, a nationally acclaimed forensic odontologist. From Hawaii, Carlisle orchestrated the exhumation of Tammy Hayes’ body in Georgia. Dr. Sperber flew to Georgia, recovered her jaws and took them to his laboratory in San Diego, California. Dr. Sperber confirmed that the bitemarks on William Conklin appeared to have been inflicted by Tammy Hayes. Dr. Sperber was called to testify during the trial. This was the first time bitemark evidence was accepted by a court and presented to a jury in a criminal case in the State of Hawaii. It was used as the basis of the prosecution’s argument that in that her futile struggle for life Tammy Hayes marked and identified her killer with her teeth.
Carlisle began his opening statement in the trial of Michael Conklin as follows:
Tammy Lynn Hayes spends her mornings, noons, and nights in a wooden coffin. That coffin is buried in Winder Georgia, at the White Plains Baptist church. Surrounding the coffin is a 4,000 pound concrete vault which is airtight and waterproof. So Tammy Hayes’ eternal night is both airless and waterproof. She did not die of disease. She did not die by accident. Her life was taken by a man with a knife. She was, quite literally, butchered alive.
When police discovered her naked body, the first thing they noticed was an eight-inch slashing stab wound across her throat. It went from ear to ear. The wound gaped open so the police could see that her windpipe had been sliced in half. In the middle of her belly there was the handle of a knife. The blade of the knife impaled her intestines.
Tammy Hayes’ body was taken to the city and county morgue. A doctor examined her injuries. There were at least 40 separate stab wounds. As well as the slashing wound to the neck, there were several penetrating wounds to her throat. The wounds went from front to back. One went so deep that it nicked bone in the spinal column at the back of the neck. There were wounds to the chest area. Her left lung was penetrated and a quart of blood poured into it. The left chamber of the heart was pierced. So was the aorta, the main artery of the heart.
But most of the stab wounds were in the stomach area. The path of the knife crisscrossed back and forth so the doctor examining the body would not count all of the wounds. The doctor knows there were at least 40 wounds to the body but it is probable that there were more. Finally, her breasts and her genitals were mutilated.
Tammy Lynn Hayes was a prostitute. She walked the streets of Waikiki and sold her body to men for money. In the world of prostitution, the male customers are called “Johns.” Tammy’s life was taken by her last “John.” He is that man right over there, the defendant in this case. His name is Michael Conklin. Late one rainy night, he carved up a 23-year-old woman.