Hawaii News

‘Death threat’ investigation against Kaua‘i councilman remains ongoing

Listen to this Article
2 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Kaua‘i County Councilmember Bill DeCosta remains on administrative leave from his second job at Kapa‘a High School due to an undisclosed January incident that coincided with the local politician receiving an alleged handwritten death threat.

DeCosta has declined to comment on both the incident or his leave from his teaching position at Kapa‘a High School.

“This is a death threat, you know. So it’s a very serious thing,” he said in a recent phone conversation.

“There’s an investigation right now going on, so I’m not going to comment on it,” he added. “You guys will see when the results come out.”

According to the Kaua‘i Police Department, threatening letters for DeCosta were allegedly left at the Historic County Building in Lihu‘e at approximately noon on Jan. 12. 


The letters were reported to police on Jan. 16, which identified 67-year-old Glenn Gruenhagen, of Lihu‘e, as a suspect.

“After the initial investigation, Gruenhagen returned to the Historic County Building and police were called,” KPD Public Information Officer Tiana Victorino said in an email response. 

Police subsequently arrested and charged Gruenhagen with first-degree terroristic threatening and harassment on Jan. 19. 

Whether the threat is linked to DeCosta’s departure from Kapa‘a High School remains unclear. 


Victorino said Kaua‘i police is unaware of any connection between the threat and DeCosta’s leave with the state Department of Education. 

DOE Communications Specialist Derek Onishita declined to provide Kaua‘i Now any information related to the reason for DeCosta’s departure from the school. “The department will not be able to discuss details about the investigation, including its cause or findings, due to employee privacy restrictions,” he said. 

Council Chair Mel Rapozo also said he had “no information” on DeCosta’s case with Kapa‘a High School.

On Jan. 18, Council Chair Mel Rapozo convened an emergency meeting regarding the letters, calling them a “credible threat” and noting the Historic County Building would increase security measures by requiring visitors to sign in and out of the premises and making certain sections of the building off-limits. 


However, in an email response last week, Rapozo said the restrictions were only in place while Gruenhagen was at large, and that they were lifted once he was apprehended and confined at the Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center. 

According to court records, DeCosta has had a temporary restraining order against Gruenhagen since Jan. 22.

Gruenhagen is currently being held at the Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center.

Emma Grunwald
Emma Grunwald is a reporter for Kauaʻi Now. You can reach her at emma.grunwald@pmghawaii.com.
Read Full Bio

Sponsored Content

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay in-the-know with daily
headlines delivered straight to your inbox.


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Kauai Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments