Boy allegedly slain while saving mom
His father faces two murder counts in the attack on his family
By Leila Fujimori
Fourteen-year-old Tyran Vesperas-Saniatan was trying to restrain his father so his wounded, pregnant mother could flee when he was fatally stabbed in the neck, Big Island police said.
Authorities charged the boy’s father, Tyrone Vesperas, a full-time Hawaii Army National Guardsman who served in Iraq, with second-degree murder yesterday, as well as first-degree attempted murder and use of a deadly weapon.
Police recovered the weapon Vesperas is suspected of using: a military-type folding knife.
Vesperas allegedly stabbed his 34-year-old estranged pregnant wife, Cheryl-Lyn Saniatan, in the abdomen multiple times on Monday morning at his Ainaloa subdivision house in Puna.
The Hilo woman, who was pregnant and due any day, is in stable condition, but the unborn child did not survive the attack, police said.
Police said the man and his estranged wife had gotten into a dispute, which quickly turned violent.
Puna patrol officers found Vesperas in the garage of his house and the boy’s lifeless body inside the home, police said. Police immediately arrested Vesperas.
Vesperas-Saniatan attempted to hold back his father so his mother could escape from the house, police said. During the struggle, the teenager received a stab wound to his left side of his neck, cutting his jugular vein, which caused his death, an autopsy yesterday revealed.
Police said the first 911 call to police was made at 11:30 a.m. from someone who said he had been stabbed at an Ainaloa residence. Saniatan made the second 911 call from her vehicle. She was found on the side of the roadway near the six-mile marker on Highway 11 in Keaau.
Staff Sgt. Tyrone Vesperas is a full-time federal technician and, up until this point, was a guard member of good standing, said Maj. Chuck Anthony, spokesman for the Hawaii National Guard. Vesperas served with the 29th Brigade Combat Team in Iraq from February 2005 to January 2006, and worked in the maintenance shop, Anthony said.
Anthony said every soldier returning from a combat zone undergoes a series of briefings. They are first screened with a questionnaire, which is used to possibly refer soldiers for physical or psychological follow-ups.
He said it is hard to generalize the effects of deployment upon soldiers because their reactions differ greatly. “Some see horrific combat and have no problems readjusting to civilian life,” he said, while others may not see any combat but suffer from stress.