Brutal stabbings end, upend lives


POSTED: Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Waianae High School teacher killed Friday in what appears to be a random stabbing was remembered as a caring mother, wife and mentor to other teachers and students.

;[Preview] Loved Ones Remember Ewa Stabbing Victim

Stabbing victim Asa Yamashita was remembered by family and friends as a petite woman with a big heart.

Watch ]


Family and friends are shocked over the death of 43-year-old Asa Yamashita, a mother of two, who loved writing and teaching.

“;The nicest thing was the night before she died we went out to dinner as a family and we had a really nice time,”; said husband Bryan Yamashita, 50.

He said he is still struggling with grief, but tries to focus on the good in his wife's life and not her death.

“;It's just so hard to accept what happened,”; Yamashita said. He said he's in shock but is not angry at the suspect.

The Ewa Beach couple had been married 16 years and adopted two children, ages 4 and 7.

Asa Yamashita was stabbed multiple times outside the Lovely Nails II salon at the Ewa Town Center on Friday at about 1:30 p.m.

Yamashita believes his wife didn't know the suspect, 25-year-old Tittleman Fauatea. He remains in custody and had not been charged as of last night. He has one conviction for harassment, a petty misdemeanor, and was sentenced to six days in jail in November, according to Hawaii's criminal database Web site.

Yamashita had apparently just finished getting her haircut at the shopping center and was waiting for a ride when she was attacked.

Police are investigating to learn whether Yamashita had any contact with her alleged attacker before the stabbing. The man was arrested at the corner of Geiger and Fort Weaver roads, where he apparently walked, sat down and waited after the stabbing.

Police found a kitchen knife believed to be the murder weapon.

A Farrington High School graduate, Asa Yamashita had dreams of becoming a writer. She went to Pomona College in California and returned to Hawaii after graduating. She was teaching at Waianae when she met her husband, then a teacher at Farrington, and married him 16 years ago.

Asa Yamashita was the literacy coordinator and head of the English department at Waianae High School.

“;She loved the art of writing. She had a strong respect for words,”; said her husband, a social studies teacher at Nanakuli High and Intermediate School.

Yamashita also was a devoted Christian and mother of two adopted girls from China.

Bronson Salmon, 22, a former student of Yamashita's, stopped by Waianae High School yesterday where media students had put up a banner and small memorial for Yamashita.

“;I'm in disbelief. I don't know why anybody would do that to her,”; he said in tears. “;She was one of those teachers that we needed here at Waianae. She was so dedicated to her job. I don't know how someone could do that to her.”;

He said she was his favorite freshman teacher, a “;golden teacher,”; and recalled spending his lunch with other students in her classroom talking about movies and books. She encouraged students to think about their careers and helped with recommendations.

Calvin Endo, Yamashita's co-worker, said she mentored younger English teachers and was “;very productive”; in getting things done for the school, “;a vital part of the school.”;

Also visiting the memorial was Amber De Marco, 18, and Brittany Gomes, 18, both students of Yamashita's in National Honor Society. They said Yamashita volunteered for several school projects and served as the driving force behind the school's Sustained Silent Reading program, which requires students to read for 20 minutes in school every day.

“;I want him to know how important of a person he took away,”; De Marco said of the assailant.

Gomes said Yamashita loved her students. “;She didn't have to say it. You knew,”; she said. “;She's one of the most lovable people. She always had a smile on her face.”;

Yamashita said his wife enjoyed teaching because she wanted to help struggling kids and appreciated the “;sense of aloha”; from students in Waianae. “;I will always remember what she gave to me as her husband and friend was the idea to do what was right, to be honest, to help others.”;