After more than three months of investigation, Salt Lake City police have arrested a suspect in the murder of 19-year-old Sione Fakatoufifita.
Detectives arrested Vilisoni Angilau, 20, at his work in West Jordan without incident Tuesday evening, according to a Salt Lake City Police Department news release. Police booked him into the Salt Lake County Jail on suspicion of first-degree felony murder and one count of obstruction of justice, which is a second-degree felony.
If the Salt Lake City man is formally charged and convicted of murder, Angilau faces up to life in prison. The obstruction charge carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
“We put in a lot of hours putting this together,” said Detective Cody Lougy.
On April 13, police responded to a shots-fired call at 1680 S. Redwood Road about 1:15 a.m. When they arrived, they found Fakatoufifita’s body in the north parking lot of a Maverik convenience store.
“The suspect and victim were members of rival gangs,” according to the release. Angilau and other gang members had been pursuing Fakatoufifita through Glendale, the release adds.
Fakatoufifita eventually arrived at the Maverik store, where police suspect that Angilau found him and shot him numerous times, according to the statement. Fakatoufifita was pronounced dead at the scene.
Angilau fled and got rid of the evidence at the nearby Jordan River surplus canal, according to a probable cause statement filed with his arrest. Multiple witnesses reported picking up Angilau near the Maverik convenience store and assisting him in fleeing the scene, the probable cause statement adds.
The Utah Department of Public Safety dive team recovered evidence from the canal, including a handgun that police believe is the murder weapon, Lougy said.
During the police investigation, an additional witness said Angilau confided about his involvement in the killing, according to the probable cause statement, which withholds the name and gender of the witness due to safety concerns.
Fakatoufifita was planning to marry in May. But he was killed and his fiance, 18-year-old Morgan Maree Janet Holst, has since been charged with obstructing the investigation. Detectives allege that Holst changed her version of events several times, according to the charge filed against her.
In her final version of events, she said she and Fakatoufifita were at a Glendale park when they were jumped by some “Glendale boys,” a reference to rival gang members, according to the charges. A fight broke out and Fakatoufifita fled, with the alleged attackers in pursuit.
At first she told investigators she’d never seen any of the gang members before, but later admitted she had talked with some of them the night of April 13, according to the charges. She knew they were looking for Fakatoufifita to hurt him and saw one of them with a pistol, the charges state.
Bishop Kono Lotulelei of the Hunter LDS 13th Ward acknowledged shortly after Fakatoufifita died that the teenager fell in with a “wrong crowd” a couple of years back, but said Fakatoufifita had been coming to church more regularly in the past year and seemed to be doing better.
Lotulelei said he had no idea why someone would shoot Fakatoufifita. He didn’t dwell on that, but instead he remembered Fakatoufifita’s talents and contributions to his church family.