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Three charged with trespassing in Tafeta

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reporters@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — On Nov. 8, 2023, three individuals were booked and confined at Tafuna Correctional Facility (TCF), to await their arraignment at court, following their arrest for trespassing after four of them were stopped allegedly on property they had no right to be on. A fourth individual in the case is still at large.

Separate affidavits were issued for the three who were arrested for Trespassing, which is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for up to 6 months, a fine of $500, or both.

Each was set bail of $500.

Two of the individuals are female and the third is a male. The male is identified as Ene Ah Sam, and the females are Kisa Ioane and Gateoflove Letele.

The male, who is still at large, is identified as Nelson Tupuola and is the primary suspect in this case, according to the affidavits.

From the affidavits, on November 8, 2023, Tupuola was seen on the property “peeking” into the victims’ house, as well as the storage room. The victims are Alesana Vou and his wife Lelelese Soliai. It was the couple who contacted the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) regarding individuals roaming around their house in Tafeta.

Soliai told police that they were holding three individuals at the scene who came in a truck — “trespassing on her land”. She told police their house “is the only house within the area and it’s a long road to get to the back,” and that they (the defendants) had removed the chain and lock to her house to enter her property. Another man, Willy Leomiti, according to Soliai had notified the couple that there was a vehicle “heading down her driveway”.

The couple told police they arrived back into the territory on Monday night, Nov. 6, 2023 and “observed the house in bad condition and had been broken into.” They reported the break-in the next day —  reporting what was damaged and also that one of their large white coolers was full of canned food “and lots of items along with the weed eater and blower.” The couple believed the items were “put aside by the intruder waiting to be taken away.”

Mr. Leomiti gave a statement to the police as an eyewitness, saying he saw a truck entering the driveway, at the same time his cousin Soliai called him that there were intruders at their house because the dog was barking nonstop, and the garage light was off — they had left it on. He then made his way to the house and on his way “saw a car at the top of their driveway merging [sic] away”.

He said he stopped the car, asked where they were going, didn’t believe their story of “visiting their family” and told the driver of the car to back up his car to his cousin’s house to await the police.

When police arrived, they found that Tupuola had already fled the scene, leaving three individuals — 2 females and one male. All three were taken to the TPS and Mirandized. They each gave a statement.

Ms Ioane said she was at home and called Ms Letele to hang out, which they did. They picked her up at Faleniu.

Ms. Letele told police it was not the first time she had gone to the area. On Monday, Oct. 30th, they (her and Ah Sam) went there “to chill and spend some time alone” — just the two of them. They returned the following Monday (Nov. 6) to again chill out and “talked their problems [sic] out”. It was during this visit that they met up with Tupuola, who asked them for a ride up to Tafeta, which they gave him with his girlfriend. During the ride, Tupuola asked that Ah Sam (driver) take him to his uncle’s house, which was the victim’s house and (then when there on the property) he asked that they turn around and go back, park on the side of the road, while “he grabs the money to pay for their gas.” Letele said that Tupuola was gone for awhile but returned and gave them $20 for gas money. She also said they had not unlocked the chain that was seen at the front of the victim’s driveway.

Mr. Ah Sam confirmed what Letele said about meeting up with Tupuola and further confirmed that Tupuola gave him $20 gas money. (Laupola’s girlfriend was not mentioned as part of the meet up or subsequent ride to Tafeta.) Ah Sam said he didn’t know where Tupuola went when they were asked to wait for him on the “side of the road”.

According to Ah Sam, the next night, Tuesday (11/07/23), they went with Ms Ioane this time, but were caught and brought into the TPS. He also said they did not unhook the chain at the entrance of the victim’s driveway.

“He was told by Tupuola to reverse the car straight to the house and wait for his signal,” the affidavit states.

Ah Sam added to his statement the meet up with Mr. Leomiti, while they were on the side of the road. He said Leomiti's vehicle pulled up next to theirs and Leomiti “told them that they’re the thieves that they were looking for.” It’s then they were told to drive down to the couple’s residence. When they got there, Leomiti got a hold of their car keys while they waited for the police.

The affidavit states that “both Letele and Ah Sam knew the reason they went back to the victims’ place in which they both stated verbally that Tupuola and Ioane approached the storage door when arriving in Tafeta to try and retrieve the properties.”

It was during the booking process that Ioane escaped from TPS when she went to the bathroom, opening the window and jumping out. When one of the police officers checked the bathroom, “a small clear bag containing a rolled up cigarette (joint)” was seen, which was referred to the Vice & Narcotics Unit. Ioane was found at the Election Office parking lot, arrested and brought back to TPS.

“Investigation reveals that all three suspects drove back to the scene trying to get the properties that [were] put aside inside the victim’s storage room.

“All four suspects trespassed on the victim’s property more than once while the victim was off island,” the affidavit states.

All three suspects are noted as unemployed, US Nationals and in their 20s.