Hilo woman accused of carjacking tourist from Alaska

  • Kapeli-Spencer

A 24-year-old Hilo woman was arrested and charged for the violent Dec. 27 carjacking in Puna of a woman visitor from Alaska.

A fingerprint on the stolen vehicle — a 2019 Ford Mustang convertible rental car, which was recovered the following day in the Waiakea Uka area of Hilo — matched that of Tiane K.F. Kapeli-Spencer, according to court documents filed by police.


Kapeli-Spencer was charged with first-degree robbery during a civil defense emergency, first-degree theft, unauthorized control of a stolen vehicle, theft of a credit card, unauthorized possession of confidential personal information, and habitual property crime.

The robbery charge is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment upon conviction. The first-degree theft charge is a Class B felony that carries a potential 10-year prison term, and the remainder are Class C felonies with a maximum five-year prison sentence.

According to documents, the victim — who identified Kapeli-Spencer in a photographic lineup — told police she had pulled over on Highway 130 near the 15-mile marker to rearrange items in the car. The woman said she was startled by a local woman who asked the victim if she needed help.

Documents state the victim got out of the car, and the local woman asked for a cigarette. After going into the car to retrieve a cigarette, the victim reportedly noticed two other local women getting out of a dark SUV that had parked in front of the Mustang.

As the two women approached the victim, the first woman got into the driver’s seat of the Mustang, which was still running.

When the victim attempted to stop the rental car from being stolen, the woman in the driver’s seat punched the victim’s left temple with a closed fist while the other two women held her back, according to documents.

Documents state the other two women got back into the SUV and followed the stolen Mustang northbound.

The victim told police that items in the car when it was stolen included a handbag, a wallet with credit cards and about $140 in cash, a Sony digital camera, a duffel bag with clothing, a tent and camping gear, and a black obsidian knife, according to documents.

Kapeli-Spencer — whom documents state has 34 prior arrests and eight felony convictions, including four for unauthorized control of a stolen vehicle — made her initial court appearance on Wednesday.


Hilo District Judge Kanani Laubach denied a defense request for reduction of Kapeli-Spencer’s $115,000 bail and ordered her to return at 2:30 p.m. today for a preliminary hearing.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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