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Silence isn't halting work on slaying case

Police and prosecutors still know little about how or why a Provo man was killed last week, but the case against two teenage relatives is moving forward anyway.

Lipina Lolohea, 17, Orem, appeared in 4th District Court Thursday on a charge of murder, a first-degree felony. Lolohea, who was moved to the Utah County Jail from a youth detention facility late Wednesday, requested that bail be set low enough so that she could return to her family.However, prosecutors told Judge Anthony W. Schofield that Lolohea is a risk to flee to her native Tonga if released. Also, prosecutors worry that if Lolohea returns to her family, a criminal investigation already hampered by uncooperative family members might be further inhibited.

"Part of the strong family ties she has have resulted in a very difficult investigation," said Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson.

Bryson said that family members have been unwilling to be interviewed by police and that evidence relevant to the case has disappeared since Lolohea turned herself in to police Feb. 11.

Lolohea's 15-year-old brother, who was charged with murder in 4th District Juvenile Court, remains at the Slate Canyon Youth Center in Provo. Lipina Lolohea has been charged as an adult.

Bryson told Schofield that some of Lolohea's family members might be charged with tampering with evidence. Prosecutors also haven't ruled out the possibility that someone else might have been involved in the

death of Samuela P. Loseli, who was the teens' cousin by marriage.

"It's possible that there may be other charges and other defendants," Bryson said.

Schofield set bail for Lipina Lolohea at $100,000 cash or bond. She was ordered to return before Judge Lynn W. Davis for a felony first appearance Feb. 23.

The 15-year-old is scheduled to appear in Juvenile Court for a detention hearing Friday morning. It's likely that prosecutors will attempt to have him certified as an adult to face the murder charge.

Loseli, 30, was struck in the head in his Provo apartment Feb. 10. Juab County deputy sheriffs located his body the next day in an abandoned and partially burned-out car just off a dirt road west of I-15.

Provo Police Capt. Keith Teuscher said Thursday that investigators still haven't interviewed Lipina Lolohea. Her attorneys have advised her not to speak with anyone about the case.