ST. GEORGE – A Sandy resident who fled to St. George last month following an alleged double stabbing incident was revealed to have used a machete to hack at his father and teenage sister.
Sione Fono Vaitai, 26, was captured by the St. George Police and Utah Highway Patrol May 15 following a short-lived chase onto Mall Drive. The chase involved Vaitai blowing through a traffic signal and stop signs and the truck he drove ultimately being disabled by police.
While Vaitai had attempted to flee once police learned he was in St. George and moved to contact him, he offered no resistance once stopped and taken into custody. His demeanor at arrest was a stark contrast to the individual described in court papers detailing the machete attack of a few days prior.
For the attack, Vaitai has been charged with two counts of first-degree felony aggravated attempted murder; a second-degree felony for obstructing justice; three counts of third-degree felony commission of domestic violence in the presence of a child; and a third degree felony for failing to respond to an officer’s signal to stop.
Details of the attack were recently released in court documents.
The night of May 12 is when Vaitai attacked his 14-year-old sister and father with the machete.
The 14-year-old girl and her 13-year-old sister were in the bedroom they shared when Vaitai entered with the machete in hand, according to court records. He then told the girls to be quiet or they’d be killed. He then put the machete to the 14-year-old’s neck and asked if she believed in God.
At this point Vaitai’s mother entered the bedroom and Vaitai hid the machete. The two began to argue and Vaitai drew out the machete again and held it to the 14-year-old’s neck and threatened to kill her.
At this time the 13-year-old fled to a neighbor’s house with a 10-year-old brother in tow. Other family members also fled from the house while Vaitai’s father went to confront him.
“(The father) came to the room and told Vaitai to hit him first,” the court papers state. “Vaitai began attacking (his father) with the machete. (The father) used his arms to block the blows and attempted to grab the machete from Vaitai. Vaitai pushed (his father) to the ground and continued to strike him with the machete.”
Vaitai then returned his attention to his 14-year-old sister and attacked her. She used her arms to cover her face and neck despite Vaitai’s attempt to move them.
She shielded herself her with her right arm first and was struck several times to the point “she could no longer use her right arm.” The girl then switched to her left arm as the attack continued and “found she was no longer able to use her left arm.” She was then struck in the head by the machete, according to the court documents.
The girl ended up playing dead as she was no longer able to protect herself, and Vaitai poked her in the chest with the tip of the machete “as if trying to make sure she was dead.”
Both the 14-year-old and her father were taken to the hospital in critical condition. However, Sandy Police confirmed to St. George News that both had been upgraded to stable condition by May 15.
The girl sustained multiple lacerations to her arms, hands and head, as well as a skull fracture and mild brain injury. Her right wrist was also partially severed.
Vaitai’s father had a finger on his right hand severed, with a second finger partially severed. He also sustained a skull and nasal fracture, as well as extensive lacerations to both arms with accompanying tendon lacerations and open fractures to his left forearm.
Vaitai fled to St. George in his father’s truck following the attacks and made his way to St. George. His capture by police was the result of a tip from a St. George resident who learned Sandy Police were searching for him.
According to KSL / Deseret News, the attack may have been caused by Vaitai’s father refusing to give him the keys to his truck. Witnesses also initially told police that Vaitai was acting as though he has been under the influence of narcotics.
Family members told Fox 13 News that Vaitai had also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, yet had never shown aggression toward the family before this incident.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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