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OAN’s Abril Elfi
4:27 PM – Saturday, June 1, 2024

A Samoan playwright and author has been accused of killing former Hawaii Democrat Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s aunt.


Papalii Sia Figiel, 57, was taken into custody on Sunday following the death of retired University of Hawaii professor Caroline Sinaviana-Gabbard, 78.

Local reports, citing police, claimed that the victim had been beaten with a hammer and had suffered multiple stab wounds.

The incident occurred on May 25th at Figiel’s home in the village of Vaivase-Uta in Samoa, approximately three miles from the island nation’s capital city of Apia. 

Reports also stated that Figiel’s home doubled as the local movie theater. 

According to the publication, Samoan Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo stated that the two had argued before the incident turned violent. What started the argument is unclear.

Local media reports state that Gabbard was Figiel’s mentor, and the two women were friends and coworkers.

Sinaviana-Gabbard was the sister of Hawaii State Senator Mike Gabbard and the aunt of Tulsi Gabbard.

According to her family, she was a skilled writer, educator, and environmental activist, and the first Samoan to hold a full professorship in the United States.

Mike Gabbard said he was proud of his sister’s life achievements, and they grew up very close.

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

In addition, Mike Gabbard expressed his forgiveness for the individual who killed her but expressed his hope that justice would be done and that the offender “would be punished to the full extent of the law.”

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