Big Isle man charged in murder
By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Big Island Bureau
By Kevin Dayton
HILO, Hawai'i — A Big Island man charged in the killing of his 21-year-old former girlfriend was twice the subject of restraining orders that required he stay away from the woman, and Family Court records paint a picture of a relationship marred by years of abuse.
Police last night charged Jeffrey B. Santos Jr. with second-degree murder in the death of Daysha I. Aiona Aka. The couple had lived together until August, when Aiona Aka moved out of the Ainaloa home they shared after Santos beat her during an argument, according to Hilo Family Court records.
The couple had one child together, a 2-year-old boy, and they had been scheduled to appear in Family Court on Thursday in connection with the restraining order.
Bev Akimseu, Aiona Aka's grandmother, said the family wants the public to absorb the painful lessons of Daysha's life and death.
"Remember what she went through and learn," Akimseu said, in tears. "You read it in the paper, you see movies about abuse and what happens, and how they can't get away, and it ends up in murder. But you don't think it's going to happen to you, your family, and it does.
"To the girls that are going through this, don't live with it," Akimseu said. "Do something. Get help, because it's not going to get better."
Family and friends streamed to the Akimseu family's Waiakea house in shock Thursday and yesterday, grieving with Aiona Aka's mother, grandparents, sisters and other family members.
Family members said Aiona Aka was a devoted, happy young mother who had recently been promoted to manager of the liquor department of the Hilo Safeway store. Her mother, Donna Weber, called Aiona Aka "bubbly and joyful."
After finally breaking up with Santos this summer, Aiona Aka lived with her grandparents in Waiakea in the house she grew up in. She had a large circle of friends, loved to shop and would zip home on her lunch break to squeeze her son and fuss over him.
Aiona Aka was finally finished with her long and painful relationship with Santos, and Akimseu said "it was like she was free from him after all these years, she was so happy."
Family members reported Aiona Aka missing on Wednesday, and a friend of Aiona Aka's reported to authorities that Aiona Aka had gone to Kapoho to meet Santos at about 1:30 p.m. that day, according to court records.
Police contacted Santos, a gas station attendant, for questioning, and after an interview detectives arrested him on suspicion of violating a restraining order.
The family said police told them Aiona Aka's killing "was reported to have occurred Wednesday afternoon." Detectives found the body of a woman believed to be Aiona Aka in the Pana'ewa rainforest outside of Hilo Thursday, and re-arrested Santos on suspicion of second-degree murder shortly before 4 p.m. the same day. The woman had died from a gunshot wound to the head, an autopsy said.
Police said the woman has not yet been positively identified. They are attempting to identify her through dental records. The family said they were sure the dead woman was Aiona Aka.
Santos was being held at the Hilo police cellblock on $100,000 bail pending an initial court appearance scheduled for Monday.
According to court records, Santos had already been charged with abuse of a family member in connection with an incident on Aug. 11, when he allegedly beat Aiona Aka at the home they shared in Ainaloa. Santos punched Aiona Aka and threw her against a wall during that argument, which led the couple to split up, according to court records.
In September, Aiona Aka filed for a restraining order to keep Santos away from her. According to court records, Aiona Aka alleged that Santos called her phone 25 times in one day in late September, telling her he planned to "leave work early and look for me and 'get' me. "
Aiona Aka also wrote in that filing that her grandmother had obtained a restraining order in 2002 to keep Santos away from Aiona Aka because he had allegedly been punching her and dragging her by the hair. Aiona Aka was 17 at the time, and the restraining order later expired.
"There are so many incidents of physical abuse over the past six years," Aiona Aka wrote in her court filing.
Aiona Aka wrote that she believed Santos had a gun, and said that in late July Santos told her that he "wants to shoot and kill my whole family."
The court granted the restraining order, which was to remain in effect until Dec. 26. Santos, of Hawaiian Beaches, was scheduled to face trial for the domestic abuse charge on Dec. 6.
At a previous job, Santos would follow Aiona Aka to work and wait for her outside the store for her entire eight-hour shift. "She was like a prisoner," said Akimseu.
After the two split, family members urged Aiona Aka to avoid Santos entirely, but she would still take her son to see Santos "because she knew that he also loved his son, so she let him see him, because she didn't want to deprive her son," Akimseu said.
"She was such a kind, loving person, trusting, that I don't think she thought ... we all didn't think that he would do this," she said.
Reach Kevin Dayton at firstname.lastname@example.org.