Two Big Island women have been indicted for the murder of a 6-year-old boy in Kona last year on Halloween. The Prosecutor’s Office says the child, along with two of his siblings, were abused by the suspects.
The Prosecutor’s Office tells us the two suspects were taking care of five children, including the victim. The children are all siblings but the suspects are not their adoptive or biological parents. Officials also say they had no record of prior child abuse claims.
The Hawaii County Prosector’s Office tells us last year on Halloween, Ashley Nihipali took 6-year-old Mazen Nihipali-Moniz to the Kailua Fire Station. He was unresponsive, not breathing, and later died at the hospital. We interviewed Mazen’s biological mother shortly after his death back in November 2018.
“He was smart, he was really smart, he was a really good kid. He liked playing basketball, he was really special,” said Shyann Rivera.
The 12 count indictment against a Hawaiian Paradise Park couple includes murder, felony abuse, tampering with evidence, and terroristic threatening. On Monday, police took 34-year-old Ashley Nihipali and her 32-year-old wife Kuuipo Nihipali into custody. Kuuipo was also charged with hindering prosecution.
“Over the course of the investigation, the Hawaii Police Department conducted discovered that Ashley and Kuuipo were actually the ones who had caused the injuries and death of Mazen,” said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chase Murray. “We believe that Mazen was strangled and essentially dealt a significant number of blows that ultimately led to his death.”
Prosecutors say Mazen and 4 of his siblings, including Mazen’s twin brother, lived with the couple since Summer of 2018. The children, at the time, were 3 to 7 years in age. Mazen and 2 others were identified as victims of abuse in the indictment.
“There are 3 charges for strangulation with those victims and that’s strangulation or choking, cutting off the blood supply, or the breathing of those children,” said Murray. “The other 3 counts of abuse relate to other forms of physical abuse.”
Shortly after Mazen’s death, officials say the other children were taken into protective custody. Bail for each suspect has been set at $1 million.