Tulsi Gabbard’s Aunt Murdered in Samoa, Suspect Arrested

Caroline Sinavaiana-Gabbard, aunt of ex-US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and a former lecturer at the University of Hawaii was reportedly murdered at Samoa’s GaluMoana Theater, according to Samoan authorities.

The 78-year-old Sinavaiana-Gabbard was allegedly murdered at the GaluMoana Theater by the 57-year-old Samoan dramatist Papalii Sia Figiel during a violent altercation, as reported by local news.

Sinavaiana-Gabbard was beaten to death by Figiel, who stabbed her many times and used a hammer. Figiel ran to a friend’s home after the violent incident and was then taken into custody. After a preliminary inquiry, officials upgraded Fiegel’s case from manslaughter suspicion to murder.

Although Sinavaiana-Gabbard spent some time in Florida as a youngster, she was actually born in Utulei, a community in American Samoa. She attended Sonoma State University for her bachelor’s degree in English and psychology, Berkeley for her master’s degree in folklore, and Hawaii for her doctorate in American studies.

Sinavaiana-Gabbard was the first academic of Samoan descent to hold the position of senior-level professor at an American institution. She retired after teaching Pacific literature for more than 20 years at the University of Hawaii.

In 2001, the College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature awarded her the Excellence in Teaching Award. Sinavaiana-Gabbard’s artistic and academic works have been included in many periodicals and anthologies worldwide.

The 57-year-old Samoan dramatist Papalii Sia Figiel was arrested at her residence on murder charges, according to the police.

After discovering incriminating evidence, such as a knife and hammer, the authorities raised her accusation from manslaughter to aggravated assault. The inquiry into the motivation is ongoing.  According to news sources, Gabbard served as Figiel’s mentor, and the two ladies were friends and coworkers.

State Senator Mike Gabbard of Hawaii remarked in his reaction to the death of his sister that Caroline had been his closest friend when they were teenagers. Although he forgives the murderer, he wishes that justice will be done and that Figiel is punished severely.