HONOLULU (KHON2) — Twenty-five-year-old Samuel Jones made his first court appearance today in court facing charges of murder and arson.
He remains in custody with his bail set at one million dollars.
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Jones was arrested on Monday after a woman’s body was found inside a car parked at the Mililani High School parking lot. The woman has been identified as 21-year-old Laau Jordan Laulusa.
Laulusa’s family said they met in January and had a romantic relationship.
Court documents released on Thursday said a witness who identified Jones, “Saw a male leaving the vehicle after gathering his items as the fire started to smoke.”
“Jones was carrying a backpack which had visible burn marks and had a heavy odor emitting from his person that smelled like burnt plastic. Jones also had a visible melted portion of his right shoe, and what appeared to be blood on his left ankle.”
Legal expert Doug Chin said most of the evidence laid out so far is circumstantial.
“Some of that circumstantial evidence includes evidence that the fire was set intentionally not just something that was an accident. Also the existence of a stab wound,” said Chin.
The Honolulu Medical Examiner said the cause of death was a stab wound to her neck, and it’s being ruled as a homicide.
Court documents stated a witness told officers that he saw a man that looks like Jones put a blue bag in a trash can. And an officer found that bag and saw clothing inside, which appeared to be covered in blood.
Laulusa had been with the Hawaii Army National Guard since 2019 and was a supply specialist.
The head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Hawaii said he knew Jones as a teenager and sent this statement:
“I too am shocked and in disbelief. I have known Samuel since he was a youth volunteer with the local NAACP… The incident and subsequent charges are not characteristic of Jones’ behavior.”
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Jones is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Monday.