CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kalina Badajos, cousin of slain Kailua resident Janel Tupuola, held a photo yesterday of Tupuola. Family members said Tupuola was hunted down by her ex-boyfriend.
Suspect found victim via baby sitter, relatives say
Relatives try to recover after Janel Tupuola is beaten to death
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A man charged with beating his ex-girlfriend to death with the stock of a shotgun tracked her down by staking out her baby sitter, family members said yesterday.
Alapeti Siuanu Tunoa Jr. is accused of bludgeoning Janel Tupuola to death Wednesday night in front of several witnesses along a public road in Kailua.
Tupuola, 29, who had two children with Tunoa, had left after chronic abuse, family members said, and had found a new address.
When she spotted his SUV outside her baby sitter's house, she sped off, but Tunoa followed, rammed her car several times to force her to halt and then pulled her from the car, witnesses said.
A good Samaritan tried to intervene in the beating but was struck several times in the head with the shotgun. It was the second homicide on Oahu from domestic violence in a week, advocates for battered women said.
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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kalina Badajos, left, cousin of slain Kailua resident Janel Tupuola, and Tupuola's son, Kealii Toelupe, removed Tupuola's belongings from her apartment yesterday.
Outside a Kailua apartment building, 2-year-old Trulyn skipped, jumped and giggled up and down the sidewalk yesterday, blissfully unaware of the fate of her parents.
Her father, Alapeti Siuanu Tunoa Jr., is accused of beating her mother, Janel Tupuola, to death in front of several witnesses in a public road.
In stark contrast to his half sister's boundless energy, 13-year-old Kealii Toelupe leaned against a car, his arms crossed as he remembered months of abuse his mother suffered during her relationship with Tunoa.
"I hate him," he said under his breath, his lips tight across his face and his eyes without tears. "I hate him for what he's done to this family."
The boy said her mother and Tunoa were dating and had lived together for six months. He said the suspect was abusive during that time period and that "he used to whack my mom a lot."
In November, Tupuola broke off the two-year relationship, family members said. Tupuola had since been trying to avoid Tunoa, with whom she has two children, and thought about getting a restraining order against him.
A few weeks ago, Tupuola found herself an apartment on Kuulei Road that Tunoa could not find. But he knew where the different baby sitters were.
That was how he was able to take his daughter Trulyn away from his mother for about a month, hiding her at a Likeke Place home in Kaneohe.
That was also how he was able to find Tupuola, picking up her children at a different baby sitter, said Summer Badajos, the victim's sister-in-law.
About 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Tupuola arrived at the baby sitter's home on Maluniu Avenue in Kailua to pick up her children.
Police said that when she saw Tunoa waiting in his sport utility vehicle, she immediately tried to drive away -- leaving the children at the sitter's. Tunoa allegedly gave chase and rammed into her car four times, causing her to spin out.
At Maluniu Avenue and Kawainui Street, the suspect left his vehicle, pulled Tupuola from her car and allegedly beat her with a shotgun, said police Lt. Bill Kato.
Neighbors saw the gun splinter as Tunoa beat her, and said they felt helpless out of fear he might turn the gun on them.
A good Samaritan, a 69-year-old man, tried to intervene but was struck several times in the head with the shotgun before the suspect turned his attention back to Tupuola.
The suspect fled the scene to the Likeke Place home where he hid his daughter.
"He went there to kiss his daughter goodbye," Badajos said. "When he was arrested, he didn't resist."
Tunoa was booked on suspicion of second-degree murder, second-degree assault, first-degree terroristic threatening and first-degree criminal property damage.
Tunoa, a Salt Lake resident, weighs 340 pounds and is 6 feet 2 inches tall. He was convicted in 1996 and 1997 of second- and first-degree robbery, respectively.
In the first case, he was 17 years old and threatened to snap a man's neck unless he gave up a gold chain. He also admitted to drug abuse and was admitted into the Bobby Benson Center for rehabilitation.
Tunoa had filed for divorce with his 36-year-old wife in November, about the time Tupuola had broken up with him. Tunoa, a construction worker, also has a 3-year-old daughter from that marriage. They separated in 2005, according to the court filing.
The good Samaritan was taken to Castle Medical Center in stable condition, where he received stitches and staples for his head injuries, said his son Byron, who did not wish to reveal his last name.
Byron said he is proud of his father, who also wished to remain anonymous and is still recovering. Their hearts and prayers go out to Tupuola's family, he said.
"What he did was very courageous," Byron said. "We would've hoped that other people would've stepped up. He doesn't feel like a hero."
Tupuola's family was in Kailua cleaning out her apartment. She is survived by her parents, Hank and Maile, of the Big Island; three brothers; a sister; and her five children: Kealii, 9-year-old Malama, 6-year-old Angel, Trulyn and 1-year-old Alapeti Jr.
Despite the months of escalating violence that led to his mother's death, Kealii said he is determined to care for his siblings.
Yesterday the Kailua Intermediate School student packed his mother's belongings into large cardboard boxes and loaded them into his aunt's car. He was quiet but still found time to play with his half sister from time to time.
He does not know where his real father is, but he is determined to fill the role of man of the house. And he said he would never forget what Tunoa did to his mother. "I will be a better man than he was," he said.