The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
A 25-year-old specialist in the U.S. Army Reserve was and arson in connection with the fatal stabbing of his 21-year-old girlfriend, whose body was found in her burning car.
Samuel Michael David Jones, a Radford High School graduate who was homecoming king in 2015, was charged Wednesday morning with murder in the second degree and first-degree arson. He faces life in prison if convicted of murder and up to 20 years in prison for arson.
His bail is set at $1 million and he is scheduled to make his initial appearance at 8 :30 a.m. today before District Court Judge Kristine Y. Yoo-Nakamatsu.
Jones’ attorney, Victor J. Bakke, declined comment.
The body of Laau Jordan Laulusa, a specialist with the Hawaii Army National Guard who had been dating Jones for about three months, was found in a burning car Monday by firefighters responding to a report of a vehicle fire in the Mililani High School parking lot near the baseball field.
Laulusa died of a stab wound to the neck, according to the city Department of the Medical Examiner, and the manner of her death is a homicide. She met Jones through a friend who is married to Jones’ brother.
The Hawaii Army National Guard released a statement Wednesday describing Laulusa as a “proud soldier ” who worked as a supply specialist for the 227th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Laulusa joined the Guard in 2019.
“Our Aloha and prayers are with her ‘ohana and those who knew this soldier personally and professionally, ” said Brig. Gen. Stephen F. Logan, commanding general of the Hawaii Army National Guard, in a statement. “This is a tragic loss for the entire Hawaii Army National Guard. We are cooperating with authorities during the ongoing investigation.”
Jones was arrested at 7 :16 a.m. Monday on Maka imoimo Street in Mililani and has nine prior arrests and citations for traffic offenses, trespassing and domestic abuse, according to state court records.
In 2019 a female hula performer had a petition for a temporary restraining order against Jones granted by a judge, according to state court records. The TRO petition is sealed.
At about 6 :40 a.m. Monday, witnesses called 911 to report a car fire, according to police. Upon arriving on scene at 6 :55 a.m., firefighters found the fire to have been self-extinguished and discovered Laulusa’s body inside.
Officers responding to the call were told witnesses allegedly saw Jones “opening and closing doors during the fire ” before running away, according to police. The witnesses allegedly followed Jones until officers arrived.
Police were told he was allegedly carrying a “bladed-type weapon.” Officers detained Jones and arrested him on suspicion of second-degree murder.
Jones volunteered for more than seven years with the Honolulu-Hawaii branch of the NAACP. Alphonso Braggs, NAACP branch president, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in a statement that he does not know the circumstances of the incident but is “shocked and in disbelief.”
“I have known Samuel since he was a youth volunteer with the local NAACP where he was very active in the community and a standout student in high school and college. The incident and subsequent charges are not characteristic of Samuel’s behavior, ” said Braggs. “We extend our heartfelt expressions to the family of the young lady that passed. We are prayerful that a thorough investigation will reveal the facts so that the healing process can fully take place for all who are associated with the tragedy.”
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