Tulsi Gabbard’s aunt has reportedly been stabbed and beaten to death with a hammer in Samoa

The paternal aunt of former Hawaiian Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) was allegedly stabbed multiple times and beaten to death with a hammer by her protégé in Samoa in a brutal murder, the island’s police said.

Caroline “Sina” Sinavaiana-Gabbard, 78, was found dead at the GaluMoana Theater in Vaivase-Uta on May 25, Spectrum News reported. Sinavaiana-Gabbard allegedly got into an argument with Papalii Sia Figiel, 57, a Samoan poet and writer who was reportedly mentored by the older woman. The fight escalated into fatal blows when Figiel allegedly stabbed Sinavaiana-Gabbard multiple times and hit her with a hammer before fleeing to a friend’s home, where she was arrested, police said.

Figiel was initially charged with manslaughter, but the charge was upgraded to murder after a police investigation, Samoa Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo told reporters at a news conference.

He added that police had no clear motive for the crime.

Sinavaiana-Gabbard, a former professor at the University of Hawaii, was the older sister of Senator Mike Gabbard, the father of Tulsi Gabbard. He expressed his sadness over her murder in a statement to Spectrum News.

“Caroline was my best friend as a teenager,” he said. “I love her very much and wish her the best as she continues her journey. While I sincerely forgive the murderer of this heinous crime, I hope that justice will be served and that person will be punished to the full extent of the law.”

Before her retirement, Sinavaiana-Gabbard taught Pacific literature at the University of Hawaii for over twenty years. Born in American Samoa, she made history as the first scholar of Samoan descent to become a professor at an American university.

Figiel is expected to appear in court on June 10 New York Post reported.

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