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Police still looking for three of the four TCF prison escapees

The three inmates who escaped Sunday from the Territorial Correctional Facility (TCF) and were still at large as of press time yesterday. These photos — provided by DPS — feature the escapees with their names inked on them for identification. [photos: DPS]

Police are investigating how and why four inmates escaped Sunday night from the Territorial Correctional Facility in Tafuna.

Police have already apprehended one of the four prisoners who escaped, but the search continues for the remaining three who are still at large.

This is according to Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson who told Samoa News yesterday morning that no additional details could be provided until he gets a “full briefing” on the case.

Asked if the escaped prisoners are “considered dangerous to the community”, Le’i responded that whenever a prisoner escapes from jail, they should be considered a danger to society.

Just before 12:30p.m. yesterday, the Police Commissioner released the identities of the escapees. The one who has been recaptured is Naea Timata a.k.a. Timata Naea, and the three who are still at large are:  Ryan Pite, Joe Togitogi, and Joseph Iakopo.

Le'i said the trio should be considered dangerous as they may be armed.

If anyone in the community has any information that can lead to the capture of these inmates, please contact 633-1111 or 699-9944. Public support and assistance is greatly appreciated.

“We are investigating the cause and reviewing our policies to prevent these situations from reoccurring,” Le’i said when asked what policies will be implemented by the Department of Public Safety to prevent future escapes from TCF.

According to Samoa News archives:

•    Togitogi was convicted last November of escaping from confinement on Apr. 16, 2016, while serving a 5-year sentence for a 2015 second degree assault conviction. Togitogi has a criminal record that goes back to 2013 when he was convicted of assaulting a homeless man.

•    Iakopo was sentenced in 2014 to 16 years in jail after he was convicted of 14 burglaries involving six stores, a church, two restaurants and five homes.

•    While serving time following a conviction from a previous crime, Pite and another inmate escaped from TCF and burglarized the Bank of Hawai’i, KFC and Pizza Hut in 2012.