Tulsi Gabbard’s Aunt Brutally Murdered, Author Charged After ‘Incriminating’ Evidence Found

An aunt of former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has been murdered at her home on Samoa.

Samoan playwright Papalii Sia Figiel, 57, has been charged with the death of Caroline Sinavaiana-Gabbard, who was a former professor at the University of Hawaii, according to KGMB-TV.

The victim, 78, was the sister of Hawaii state Sen. Mike Gabbard and was the first person of Samoan ancestry to become a professor at an American college.

Figial was first charged with manslaughter, but the charge was later upgraded to murder after police discovered “incriminiating evidence” in the case, KGMB reported.

The two women had been characterized as friends, with local Samoan media describing Gabbard as Figiel’s mentor.


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Samoan Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo told local media the killing happened May 25, according to The New Zealand Herald.

Filipo said that an argument took place between Figiel and Gabbard at Figiel’s home prior to Gabbard being killed.

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Gabbard suffered multiple stab wounds. A hammer and knife were used, Filipo said.

After the incident, Figiel, who won the 1997 Asia/Pacific Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for fiction, is alleged to have left Gabbard at her home and visited a friend.

“It wasn’t until Sunday morning while they were having breakfast that [Figiel] told her friend what had happened,” Filipo said.

Figiel turned herself in to police.

Mike Gabbard said he was very close to his sister growing up


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“Caroline was my best friend as a teenager,” he said in a statement, according to Fox 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 said.

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

As of Saturday evening, Tulsi Gabbard had not released any comment.

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