LIHU’E — Kaua’i police have charged Gregory Aguiar, 49, with attempted murder
for allegedly pouring a flammable liquid on his wife and setting her ablaze on
Sunday morning at their home on Pualei Street in ‘Ele’ele.
investigators said the 11:12 a.m. incident was triggered by a domestic
The victim, identified by neighbors as Muilan Aguiar, 40,
suffered third-degree burns over 85 percent of her body, and is in critical
condition at Straub Hospital on O’ahu.
She was initially treated at Wilcox
Hospital and was sent to the O’ahu hospital for more intensive
Had she not run from her home at 4554 Pualei Street to a
neighbors home across the street to hose herself down with water, she would
have died, neighbors said.
Neighbors said they were stunned by what they
She was a ball of fire running across the street, said Mana Makua,
who lives across the street from the victim and was the first to call police
Makua said she was in her home shortly before 11 a.m. when she
said she heard screaming from the Aguiar household.
“I saw a fire in the
kitchen and ran back into my house to call the fire department,” Makua said.
“Then I saw the fire come out of the house. It was Mrs. Aguiar. She was
smoldering. It was an awful sight.”
Dorothy Lewis, who lives next door to
the Aguiars, said Mrs. Aguiars screaming drove her out of her house.
was screaming three or four times, Help me, help me,” Lewis said. “I was
wondering what was going on. Then. I saw.”
Mrs. Aguiar’s blouse, Lewis
said, had been burned off her back. “And I could see her arms were
Had the woman not hosed herself off, Makua said, she would have
died. “She saved herself by doing that, I think.”
Makua’s husband and
another neighbor also helped extinguish the womans flaming clothes.
she was taken to the hospital, Mrs. Aguiar asked Makua to call her workplace —
Home Infusion Associates in Lihu’e — to say she wasn’t going to make it to
work. The company serves individuals who are infirmed and require medical care
Mrs. Aguiar also asked Makua to call family members, including
her daughter to pick up her granddaughter, who had been staying at the Aguiar
home. “She was terribly worried about the child,” Makua said. “She wanted the
Two other youths who stayed in the Aguiar household were
placed in the care of relatives on the island, Makua said.
Medical Response paramedics and firefighters from Hanapepe subsequently arrived
on the scene and administered aid.
Meanwhile, Gregory Aguiar fled the
scene, but surrendered to Kaua’i police in the Numila area, within two miles of
the Aguiar home. He was arrested about 1 p.m.
Aguiar was confined at the
Kaua’i Community Correctional Center after he failed to post $100,000
He is scheduled to be arraigned in Koloa District Court on
A motive hasn’t been clearly determined.
Kaua’i Police Lt.
Bill Ching said the victim had been estranged from Aguiar at times and they had
quarreled over relationships with other people. “He just snapped,” Ching
Makua said the couple quarreled over Mrs. Aguiar putting in too many
hours at work.
Neighbors described Aguiar as a pleasant and quiet man and
said they were shocked to hear he had been charged with the crime.
loved his plants. He loved to go fishing, and he had the best Christmas display
in the neighbor,” Makua said. “He was always friendly.”
Mrs. Lei Niau,
another neighbor, said the crime rocked her.
” I never expected something
like this to happen,” Niau said. “I never heard them argue. They seem like nice
Aguiar is employed by Kaua’i Coffee in Numila. He was arrested in
the past for driving under the influence, Ching said.
After the incident,
a Kaua’i Fire Department Haz Mat team began an investigation to determine what
type of flammable liquid was used, Battalion Chief Ernest Moniz Jr. said.
“We had some information, but we cannot give out the exact chemical. We just
have the breakdown, hydrocarbons and things like that,” Moniz said.
said “the sight of the burning blouse on a human being is something I will