A family member of the late Sophia Demapan, 20, who was found dead on the side of the road in Marpi late in the evening July 27, said her family is looking for answers and for justice for the once-vivacious young woman. Writing to Kandit on condition of anonymity due to what family members believe is a culture of retaliation, vindictiveness, and coverup among the higher ups of the Department of Public Safety and the Commonwealth government, Ms. Demapan’s relative wrote this:
“Her death is being written off as a hit and run but my family and I, as well as many people in the CNMI, believe that there’s so much more to the story than that. We’ve been denied information by DPS since day 1, questions we have can not be answered by our local police or we’ve been given very vague answers, and everything surrounding her death has been nothing short of fishy.
“I’ve been fighting for justice for her on all social media platforms and have been searching for information but everything that has come back to me somehow “does not match any of the findings” from DPS. I’ve been shut down so many times. Her funeral is in only a few days and we still have no real answers. They’re charging a minor with homicide but every witness claims she was already lying on the road before his car even hit her. This whole situation stinks of corruption and coverups and I was hoping you could help me somehow.
“All we want here is to have #JusticeForSophia.”
According to the Patient Care Report from the CNMI Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, medics deemed Ms. Demapan dead on arrival at 10:12 p.m., or three minutes after the first medics arrived on the scene. According to the report, the medics received the fire dispatch call at 10:00 p.m. and were given directions to the wrong location. Police were at the scene before medics, along with several bystanders.
“At 2200hrs Fire dispatched (sic) called over via radio for a reported individual without a pulse and is not breathing in As Matuis, on the main road by Kensington Hotel area. Both Medic-2 and Engine-2 en route to said location at 2200hrs. While en route Fire dispatch relayed over that the original location was wrong and directed units further down towards Marpi Rd. north of former Kan Pacific swimming pool. Medic-2 was the first arriving unit on scene at 2209hrs. Upon arrival on scene three Police units were already at the area along with two other vehicles with multiple by standers.” – excerpt of narrative from Patient Care Report in Run Number 03046
The unnamed bystanders, according to the report, came across her body about 20 minutes prior to the medics’s arrival at 10:09 p.m. “They were heading north when they discovered the patient laying on the road on the left hand side. They also explained that there were no other vehicles around. Then they called 911 for help and awaited for their arrival.”
The report went on to describe the gory scene medics processed in the three minutes from the time they arrived on scene, to the determination that Ms. Demapan was dead. She had no pulse, nor breath as she lay motionless on the left side of thee road on the southbound lane. “Early signs of rigor mortis as well as brain matter were exposed upon patient contact.” The report describes that her body was severely deformed with multiple fractures, lacerations, and avulsions throughout her body. Her shoe was found about 10 feet north from her body, “along with blood markings,” and further description of a disturbing nature.
Saipan residents who presumably knew Ms. Demapan and may have been with her that evening or witnesses to her killing took to Twitter in the hours following her death.
On August 8, DPS announced an arrest warrant issued by Judge Teresa Kim-Tenorio the day before had been executed upon a 17-year-old boy, “who was identified as the operator of the vehicle that struck and killed … Sophia A. Demapan on the night of July 27, 2021,” according to the DPS news release.
According to Ms. Demapan’s relative, however, “They’re charging a minor with homicide but every witness claims she was already lying on the road before his car even hit her.”
The medics’s report speaks only of witnesses, who discovered Ms. Demapan’s body, where the medics found her lifeless and declared her dead. The claim that other witnesses saw her lifeless on the road prior to her being hit by the car driven by the minor defendant is the subject of an inquiry Kandit has made to the CNMI Office of the Attorney General.
According to the Saipan Tribune in an article published August 5, DPS spokesman Dre Pangelinan said Dr. Philip Dauterman conducted the autopsy on Ms. Demapan. “I can’t speak too much on the findings of the autopsy, but it was found that the victim did die from blunt force trauma as a result of a vehicle-pedestrian crash. The completed report will be sent over to the prosecutor of the case,” Mr. Pangelinan said.
“We’ve gotten no official paperwork of any sort,” Ms. Demapan’s relative told Kandit. “Sophia’s parents haven’t even gotten a copy of the autopsy but already the Tribune published it. Everything has been kept from us since day one.”
The relative said the OAG has not provided the family any of the public documents in the case, including the charging documents, whether those be the magistrates report, or the Grand Jury indictment. Kandit has requested those documents from the OAG.
Relatives and friends have been particularly critical of DPS’s handling of the case, starting a #JusticeforSophia movement on social media on the suspicion of a cover up in the investigation.
The killing of Ms. Demapan occurred at the height of scrutiny against DPS commissioner Robert Guerrero following the discovery of an illegal non-disclosure agreement DPS officers, who were sources of information to the Commonwealth Legislature, alleged were being forced on them to silence them. Officers and their family members have increased their criticism of DPS leadership in the aftermath of the Demapan murder on social media.
Today, director of police Aniceto Ogumoro issued a gag order addressed to all DPS personnel, silencing police officers on threat of disciplinary action.
“Family and friends have been standing outside the court and protesting and we have that today as well and every day for the rest of the month,” Ms. Demapan’s relative said, hopeful DPS and the OAG will shed light on what happened to Sophia, and whether a thorough investigation was conducted.
“Her 3 year old son still looks for her every day,” the relative said. “It’s very hard to explain to him in a way that he can understand that she’s gone forever.”