Thursday, June 20

Tulsi Gabbard’s aunt killed, prominent Samoan author charged with murder

A prominent Samoan author and playright has been charged with murdering the aunt of Tulsi Gabbard, the former Hawaii Democratic Congresswoman, according to multiple reports. 

Papalii Sia Figiel, 57, was arrested Sunday following the death in Samoa of 78-year-old Caroline Sinaviana-Gabbard, a retired former University of Hawaii professor. 

The victim was stabbed multiple times and beaten with a hammer, local reports said, citing police. Samoa is a country located in the South Pacific Ocean.

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The deadly incident took place on May 25 at Figiel’s home in the village of Vaivase-Uta, which is about three miles from the island nation’s capital city of Apia. Figiel’s property also doubles as the local theater, the New Zealand Herald reports. 

An argument had broken out between the pair before the incident turned violent, Samoan Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo said, according to the publication. It is not clear what sparked the argument. 

The two women were colleagues and friends, and Gabbard was Figiel’s mentor, according to local media reports.

Sinaviana-Gabbard was Tulsi Gabbard’s aunt and sister of state Sen. Mike Gabbard. 

Her family says she was the first Samoan to become a full professor in the U.S., and was an accomplished writer, teacher and environmental activist.

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Mike Gabbard said he was very close to his sister growing up and proud of her accomplishments in life.

“Caroline was my best friend as a teenager,” Mike Gabbard said in a statement to Spectrum News. 

“She helped me considerably during my rebellious stage of adolescence. She got me hooked on reading, so much so that I followed in her footsteps and majored in English at Sonoma State University in California, then returned to our birthplace, American Samoa, where I taught English in high schools and was a faculty member, guidance counselor and dean at the community college for many years.”

“I love her deeply and wish her well as she continues her journey.”

Mike Gabbard went on to say that he forgives the person responsible for her death, but hopes justice will be served and that the person “will be punished to the full extent of the law.”

According to Spectrum News, Sinaviana-Gabbard earned undergraduate degrees in English and psychology from Sonoma State University, a masters’ degree in folklore from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in American studies from the University of Hawaii.

She taught Pacific literature at the University of Hawaii for over 20 years before retiring. 

A spokesperson for the lawmaker’s office did not respond to Fox News Digital request for comment. 

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