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Who is Papalii Sia Figiel, accused killer of Tulsi Gabbard’s aunt?

The girl accused of murdering the aunt of former US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is a celebrated Samoan writer, prestigious playwright — and shut affiliate of her alleged sufferer.

Papalii Sia Figiel, 57, is now in police custody for allegedly taking a hammer and knife to Dr. Caroline Sinavaiana-Gabbard, a poet, retired former school professor and the aunt of the Trump veep hopeful and ex-Democratic Hawaiian congresswoman.

Sinavaiana-Gabbard, 78, was discovered lifeless May 25 inside Figiel’s Vaivase-Uta house, in keeping with local news reports.

Close-up of an olive skinned woman with a large necklace
Papalii Sia Figiel, 57, a lauded Samoan writer and playwright, is accused of murdering her good friend and mentor, Dr. Caroline Sinavaiana-Gabbard, aunt of ex-Hawaii Rep. and Trump veep hopeful Tulsi Gabbard. read-nz.org

She had been overwhelmed with a hammer and stabbed a number of occasions, reportedly after an argument between between the 2 ladies within the house, which doubles as the local people theater, GaluMoana Theater.

Figiel is stated to have fled to a good friend’s home after the vicious assault earlier than turning herself in to police. She was initially charged with manslaughter, however the costs have since been upgraded to homicide.

Local media reported that the ladies, who have been each concerned within the literary world, have been shut associates. Sinavaiana-Gabbard was described in lots of reviews as Figiel’s mentor.

Samoan Police Commissioner Auapaau Logoitino Filipo stated investigators have but to find out why Sinavaiana-Gabbard was killed.

“We do not know what the motive is of the offending, but from reports, the incident occurred on Saturday, and the suspect left the deceased at her home while she went out to Lotofaga and spent time with a friend,” Filipo added.

Figiel attended college in her native Samoa in addition to New Zealand, the place she began her Bachelor of Arts, a level she’d later attain at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash.

Her poetry took high honors within the Polynesian Literary Competition in 1994, and her debut novel, “Where We Once Belonged,” earned her a Best First Book award within the South East Asia/South Pacific Region of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1997, in keeping with her on-line writer bios.

She has revealed two books of prose poetry, 1996’s “Girl in the Moon Circle” and 1998’s “Contemplation.” She frequently would carry out her poems at literary festivals, and her work has been translated into quite a few overseas languages.

Three people in festive island clothes sit smiling side by side.
Sinaviana-Gabbard (middle) was a well known poet and a beloved professor at University of Hawaii for almost 20 years.

Figiel has held residencies on the Institucio de les Lletres Catalanes in Spain, the Pacific Writing Forum on the University of the South Pacific, the University of Technology, Sydney, and the East West Center-Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawaii.

Sinavaiana-Gabbard taught artistic writing on the University of Hawaii for almost 20 years and was an affiliate professor of Pacific literature on the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, in keeping with Samoa News.

In 2003, Figiel discovered she had sort two diabetes, the identical illness that killed each of her dad and mom.

An older woman standing in a living room facing the back of her mirror image.
The sufferer was thought of a superb author and a supporter of different writers. Gian Gabbard Bamrah/Facebook

Although she hid her prognosis from the general public at first — not eager to be perceived as weak — she later grew to become a vocal advocate for these battling the persistent situation.

Details are nonetheless rising about Figiel and Sinavaiana-Gabbard’s relationship.

A good friend of the slain professor advised The Samoa Observer that she had been a superb author and a supporter of different writers.

“[She was] someone who did not deserve to die like that. She was a very private person despite being a giant in the literary world,” the pal stated.

Figiel is as a result of make her subsequent courtroom look later this month.

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