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Young man who broke into house to ‘see his girlfriend’ arrested for burglary

American Samoa District Court building
‘Girlfriend’ says she only knows him from a volleyball game at church compound

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A 24-year-old who’s accused of breaking into a home in Kokoland and then managed to get away before the occupants woke up and saw him, was arrested by police last month and he’s now being charged.

During his arrest, officers discovered illegal drugs in his possession. Furthermore, he also has an active warrant from last year for his involvement in a burglary case from Nu’uuli.

The defendant, Joseph Unasa made his initially appearance in District Court last month.

The government has filed two separate criminal cases against Unasa.

In the first case, he is charged with one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (meth) and one count of unlawful possession of marijuana (pot), both unclassified felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment from 5-10 years, a fine of up to $20,000, or both; along with one count of 1st degree burglary, a class B felony, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than fifteen years; along with one count of endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of trespass, all class A misdemeanors.

In the second case, Unasa is charged with stealing and burglary, both class C felonies, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than fifteen years, along with one count of property damage in the third degree, a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

Bail is set at $20,000.

Preliminary examination is set for next week.


On Mar. 18, 2021 an elderly woman contacted the Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) to report that a male who was later identified as Joseph Unasa broke into their residence in Kokoland and stole several items. Several police officers responded to the incident and met up with the woman and she showed officers the point of entry — which was through the window in her bedroom.

She further stated to police that the man fled the scene after her daughter yelled out at him to get out of the house.

Officers interviewed several members of the family affected by the defendant’s action, including the woman who made the report and her children. The reporter told officers that it was her children who informed her about the identity of the intruder who forced his way into their home.

The woman’s daughter was interviewed by investigators and explained that she saw Unasa allegedly crawl next to her youngest sister who was sleeping on the floor in the living room. She got up, screamed at Unasa and ran towards him but he took off running and jumped out of the window. She ran towards the front door saw Unasa and two male individuals running towards the woods.

Investigators also interviewed the woman’s son who was also present during the incident. He told investigators he was sleeping in his room when he heard the dogs barking outside of their house for about 3 minutes. He woke up and walked outside of the house to check why the dogs were barking.

As he was standing outside of the door, he heard his sister yelling out to Unasa to get out of the house. He turned around and started to walk back inside the house, however, as he was walking into the house, he saw Unasa jump out through the window in his mother’s room. He easily recognized Unasa because he knew him as they used to hang out in the village.

Investigators interviewed a 16-year-old girl regarding this incident. She was identified as V.T in the affidavit. According to V.T’s statement to investigators, she stated that night of the incident as she was in her room she heard someone tapping on her window and therefore, she decided to sleep in the living room with her mom.

About two minutes later, Unasa started messaging and calling her using messenger asking where she was and wanting to see her, that’s when she messaged back to Unasa on Facebook telling him not to send her any messages because she felt uncomfortable.

V.T stated that while asleep, she felt someone grab her hand, and realized her older sister was yelling at someone. She immediately got up and saw Unasa running towards her mother’s room and jumping out of her mother’s window leaving his shirt behind. V.T was able to identify the individual as Unasa because he was the person who came and talked to her during a volleyball game at the church compound.

V.T also stated that the next morning, Mar. 20th, she went with her mom to Unasa’s home, which is one house away from her house and confronted Unasa about the break-in and Unasa at first denied it; but V.T’s mother kept asking Unasa numerous times and it was Unasa’s family that first admitted that he was the one that broke into her house.

About 9:30a.m on Mar. 25th, a member of the victim’s family contacted the TPS and reported that they had found the person that broke into their house and he was at his residence. Several officers responded and met with Unasa’s parents and informed them about the situation. Unasa was not at his house when police went to speak to him.

Four days later, Unasa was apprehended from his friend’s house in Ottoville and was transported to the TPS for questioning. Before he was taken into TPS, he was patted down for weapons and illegal drugs. During a body search, officers discovered a cut up straw containing white crystalline substance in Unasa’s pocket. Officers also discovered in his wallet a small stamp sized baggie containing green leafy substance.

Unasa was Mirandized and he said he understood and waived his rights and said he wanted to make a statement regarding the incident.

According to Unasa’s statement to investigators, he went to his friend’s house to hang out with them. After that they played billiards and drank beer outside of his friend’s house. At around 1:30a.m he walked with his cousins, dropped them off at the driveway for them to go home. He then messaged his girlfriend through her messenger and asked her to come outside to hang out with him. After a no response from her, he decided to go to her residence, and he opened the screen wire to V.T mother’s room, jumped inside and went looking for V.T.

He noticed V.T sleeping in the living room and went to wake her up, but V.T’s sister woke up yelling out saying, “Someone is inside the house” that’s when he ran back to V.T mother’s room and exited through the window where he entered and fled.

When asked about the drugs found in his possession, Unasa admitted that the drugs found in his possession belonged to him and he said it got the drugs from a friend.

It was during the defendant’s interview that investigators discovered an outstanding warrant from last year for his involvement in a burglary case in Ottoville.


On Feb. 12, 2020, Tafuna Police Substation (TPS) was contacted about a matter in the Ottoville area where two male individuals forced their way inside a home and allegedly stole several items.

Several police officers responded to the call and met up with the woman who called police for assistance. According to an eyewitness, she was standing outside her yard when she saw two male individuals make their way to the back side of the house.

The eyewitness told officers that one man entered the house through the back door while the other man was standing as a lookout at the side of the house. After a while, the two  men left the location and ran to the other side of the road where they disappeared. The eyewitness was able to identify the man who entered the house through the back door as 30-year-old Peniata Aleki, a man from the area.

One month later on Mar. 23rd, 2020, Aleki was apprehended by police and transported to the TPS for questioning, where he told officers that it was him and his friend, Joseph Unasa who broke into the house and stole items.

Aleki further explained to officers that it was Unasa’s plan to burglarize the house, however, when they arrived at the location, Unasa instructed him (Aleki) to go inside the house while he (Unasa) stood outside as a lookout person.

Items they stole from the house included two cell phones, other electronic devices and money.

Officers looked for Unasa but he was nowhere to be found at the time.