A Washington man is accused of murdering a woman he believed was cooperating with a rape investigation against his nephew.
Muhammad Salanoa was charged on Wednesday with first-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy to commit murder in the killing of Ngaire Tusi, who was found dead in December last year, NBC affiliate KING reports. A second man, Apelu Tauanuu, is accused of picking Tusi up and transporting her to the place she was shot and killed, according to Fox affiliate KZJO.
Tusi’s body was found at Oakland Madrona Park in Tacoma, Washington, with a gunshot wound to the head and an ankle monitor around her foot wrapped in tin foil.
Ngaire Tusi via Facebook
According to KZJO, investigators discovered that Tusi was associated with a “Samoan based” group connected with Muhammad Salanoa’s nephew, James Salanoa, 22, who was suspected of kidnapping and raping a woman at gunpoint in November.
James Salanoa was killed by Pierce County Sheriff’s Department deputies on Nov. 28 after he attempted to flee arrest, armed with a handgun, according to reports by KING.
According to court documents cited by local ABC affiliate KOMO, Muhammad Salanoa was “upset about people cooperating with the police and providing them with information about his nephew.”
The uncle had accused Tusi of “being a ‘snitch’” and providing police information relating to his nephew’s whereabouts, KOMO reported.
Tusi’s uncle, Lauvale Iese, told the outlet on Friday Muhammad Salanoa “should’ve made a move to turn [his nephew] in.
“Instead he took the other route, and it’s unfortunate to know there’s folks out there who will protect people who harm other people,” Iese said.
Tusi’s sister, Natasha Aasa, described her sibling’s death as an “absolutely senseless and uncalled for” murder in a GoFundMe campaign launched following the incident.
“Our hearts are shattered and will never be mended the same,” Aasa wrote. “We are having difficulty accepting the truth and the fact that we will never see her precious face again and just to be in her lively presence will forever kill us internally.”
Aasa noted that Tusi leaves behind her seven kids and husband.
An attorney was not listed under Muhammad Salanoa’s court records. However according to KOMO news, he pleaded not guilty through his attorney on Friday. Prosecutors speaking at his hearing said he was in community custody at the time of the alleged crime.