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Man accused of stabbing a member of aumaga multiple times with steak knife

American Samoa District Court building

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A man accused of stabbing a member of the Faleniu aumaga several times using a steak knife during evening curfew was arrested and he’s now being charged.

Vaueli Moananu made his initial appearance in court this week. He is charged with one count of 1st degree assault, a class A felony, punishable by a term of life imprisonment, or a term of not less than 10 years and not to exceed 30 years.

Bail is set at $20,000.

Preliminary examination is set for next week.


The assault case from Faleniu landed both the suspect and the victim in the LBJ Hospital for treatment.  

According to the government’s case, it was around 9:44 p.m when a call was made to the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) for assistance regarding a man in critical condition, after losing a lot of blood.

Several police went to Faleniu, while at the same time a request for assistance from the EMS was also made.

The victim was transported from the scene in Faleniu by a taxi, which met up with one the EMS units on the road, where he was transferred to it and then transported to the LBJ Hospital for treatment.

Two police units were flagged down in Faleniu by members of the Faleniu aumaga, who were gathered at the Aumaga house. Police observed members of the Faleniu aumaga surrounding a male individual who was sitting on the ground. That male was later identified as Vaueli Moananu, the defendant in this matter. Police saw blood on Moananu’s shirt and that he had a swollen left check.

During their investigation, police located two main witnesses, who had stopped Moananu from allegedly stabbing the victim. Another EMS unit arrived at the scene and offered medical assistance to Moananu after he informed police of his high blood pressure condition. He was later admitted to the LBJ Hospital for treatment.

The two witnesses were transported straight to the TPS for questioning regarding the alleged incident, while other police officers went over to the LBJ Hospital to check on the victim’s condition.

According to one of the witness’ statement to police, he had just finished his game practice around 10 p.m and he was walking home. On his way home, he saw Moananu came with a knife and allegedly start stabbing the victim. He tried to stop Moananu, he said, but the defendant tried to then stab him with the knife, but luckily Moananu missed.

The witness said he didn’t waste a second more but ran quickly to their house and informed his older brother regarding the alleged incident. His older brother came running for help and he was able to stop Moananu from continuing to stab the victim by punching Moananu in the face causing him (defendant) to fall away.

The second witness then removed the knife from Moananu’s hand.

According to the second witness’ statement to police, before the incident happened, he was there when the victim told Moananu to go home it’s curfew time. He was sitting inside the Aumaga house with his wife, he said. When he saw Moananu go home, they (he and his wife) went home too.

However, when he was eating his dinner at home, his little brother (first witness) ran up to him, asking for help. His brother told him that he saw Moananu allegedly stab the victim with a knife several times. That is when the second witness dropped everything he was doing and ran back with his brother as fast as possible to the location where the alleged incident was taking place.

When they both arrived at the scene, they saw Moananu still stabbing the victim with a knife. The second witness didn’t know what else to do to stop Moananu from stabbing the victim, so he started throwing punches at Moananu’s facial area until he released the knife.

After a few hours at LBJ Hospital, investigators received an update from the officers at the hospital saying that Moananu had calmed down and mostly finished with his medical care.

Moananu also begged police officers to come to the hospital, as he wanted to provide a written statement of what had happened so they could hear his side of what actually happened earlier, before the alleged incident took place at the Aumaga house.

On the following day, Sept. 19th, Moananu was brought into the TPS for questioning. He was Mirandized and he told investigators that the understood his rights and wished to make a statement.

According to Moananu’s written statement to investigators, he was walking to the front and it was exactly 9 p.m and the first bell rang for student curfew. While walking on the road, he heard the victim calling out to him saying it’s curfew time and he needs to go home. The victim also called out to him that he needs to comply with the village curfew by obeying his (victim) instructions.

Moananu yelled back to the victim and told him it is the curfew for students not adults. He is not a student and there is no reason for him (victim) to instruct him to go home because he does not have any homework to do at home.

The victim however kept calling out to Moananu that it doesn’t matter whether it’s a curfew for students or adults, he should comply with curfew rules and he needed to go home immediately.

Moananu yelled back at the victim and told him that he’s not a student and he will not go home because he’s not a young kid. The yelling back and forth between the victim and the defendant continued.

According to Moananu, he was mad and wanted to go back to where the victim was standing to discuss the matter with him, however, he changed his mind and decided to continue on home. However, Moananu got really mad when he heard the victim radio to other members of the Aumaga to make him pay for not obeying the village curfew.

According to Moananu’s written statement, he has paid more that $300 for little things he has done all because of this man (victim). He also stated that the victim would always find something against him so that the village aumaga would fine him. He thought to himself that the victim’s behavior is not good and it’s about time to put a stop to it.

So, after hearing what the victim told other aumaga members, Moananu walked back to his house, pissed off, and went straight to the kitchen and grabbed a steak knife, and told his wife to take good care of their children.

As he walked outside the house, he turned back and looked at his family before he continued to walk to the Aumaga house to locate the victim.

Moananu saw the victim sitting alone inside the Aumaga house, and he walked straight up to him and allegedly stabbed him in the back. They started struggling for the knife. The victim tried his very best to remove the knife from Moananu, but Moananu was very angry and continued to stab the victim — in his shoulder, in his chest.

Moananu told investigators that the next thing he knew he was being punched and all the Aumaga personnel were at the scene.

The victim sustained multiple stab wounds on his body, some more than an inch deep.