Details of Disappearance Woita was last in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 28, 2003 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was driving his stepbrother's yellow yellow 2000 Nissan X-Terra with the license plate number JBJ-067. Another man, Gregory Awana, was in the car with him.
Woita was involved in an ongoing dispute with Gregory at the time of his disappearance. Gregory, a former deputy sheriff, was employed as an investigator for the city medical examiner. Woita had given him money to start growing marijuana and he believed Gregory owed him a substantial sum as his share of the profits.
Woita planned to meet Gregory on the day he went missing and asked his stepbrother and a friend to "watch his back." The other men watched the meeting from a distance. Gregory and Woita drove to Gregory's house in the 2300 block of Oahu Avenue and went inside between 5:00 and 5:15 p.m.
Woita's friends called him on his cellular phone at 5:35 p.m. He told them Gregory had a gun. At 6:45 p.m., Woita called his stepbrother and said he was okay and would meet them later. He didn't sound upset at the time. Woita's stepbrother called him back between 7:30 and 7:45 p.m. Woita was still with Gregory at the time and said he'd meet his stepbrother back at their hotel room.
His stepbrother tried calling him at ten- or fifteen-minute intervals after that, but Woita didn't answer the phone. He has never been heard from again. At 9:05 p.m. that day, the Nissan he was driving was found on Mokulama Street in Waimanalo, Hawaii. It had been set on fire and was still burning when it was located.
Police set up a surveillance detail at Gregory's house and, two days after Woita's disappearance, they saw him and his wife, Jody Awana, load garbage bags into a truck and drive them to a dump. When investigators opened the bags, they discovered marijuana plants, a bloodstained cement block, bloodstained white towels and a spent .22-caliber cartridge casing
The Awanas were arrested afterwards. Gregory was charged with second-degree murder, auto theft, commercial promotion of marijuana and property damage. Authorities believed he killed Woita, stole his car and set it on fire.
Jody didn't face charges relating to Woita, but she was charged with hindering prosecution for helping her husband dispose of the bloody items, and with assisting her husband in his marijuana operation. She later admitted she'd helped Gregory dispose of his marijuana, but denied helping him grow it and denied any knowledge of Woita's presumed murder.
Jody pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a deferred term of five years in prison, while her husband was remanded for trial. A photograph of Gregory is posted with this case summary.
Gregory admitted he killed Woita, but said he'd acted in self-defense. He said Woita became angry with him, threatened to kill him and grabbed Gregory's gun, and the gun went off three times and killed Woita while the two men were fighting over it. Gregory said he panicked after the shooting, borrowed a friend's boat, and dumped Woita's body and the gun in Kaneohe Bay.
A jury convicted him of second-degree murder in February 2005 in spite of his self-defense claim, and he was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
Woita moved from Germany to the United States with his family at age three. He graduated from Castle High School. He was employed as a carpenter and studying business and the German language at Hawaii Pacific University. He enjoyed fishing as a hobby. He did not drink alcohol or frequent bars at the time of his disappearance, and it is uncharacteristic of him to be out of touch with his family.
His body has never been located, but foul play is suspected due to the circumstances involved.
- Honolulu Police Department
Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004. Last updated August 2, 2008; casefile added.