Washington Man Identified, Charged in Murder of Girlfriend at Tulalip Resort Casino

Posted on: November 24, 2020, 12:50h. 

Last updated on: November 24, 2020, 01:27h.

A 35-year-old Washington man has been charged with domestic violence murder in the second degree for the October death of a 33-year-year woman outside the Tulalip Resort Casino.

Washington casino murder Tulalip Resort
Law enforcement in Washington alleges the Tulalip Resort Casino parking lot was the site of a violent fight between a couple that resulted in murder. The Tulalip Resort is seen here. (Image: Tulalip Resort)

Prosecutors say Nomeneta Tauave got into a fight with his girlfriend Hana Letoi on Oct. 23. The couple started a screaming match inside the casino, but it continued outside to their silver GMC Yukon in the parking lot.

Security officers say the altercation turned violent, with Tauave allegedly punching and shaking Letoi violently. She fell out of the SUV as he sped off, eyewitnesses stated. Letoi was taken to the hospital where she died two days later.

Snohomish County Medical Examiner Dr. Matthew Lacy determined that she died of “hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy,” which is a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain. The death was also “due to resuscitated cardiac dysrhythmia due to hypertensive cardiovascular disease in the setting of acute emotional stress following a physical altercation.”

Tauave told police his girlfriend began to “fuss” while they were gambling, and her complaining continued when they went to leave. He claims she hit him first, and he retaliated.

Tauave is being held on $1 million bail.

Casino Murder Cases

The Tulalip Resort Casino is owned and operated by the Tulalip Tribes of Washington. The casino, located in Quil Ceda Village some 30 miles north of Seattle, has a gaming floor measuring 200,000 square feet, with 2,400 slot machines, 37 table games, and bingo room.

The resort has a 370-room hotel, seven restaurants, a spa, indoor oasis pool, and 3,000-person outdoor amphitheater. Tulalip is a favored quick getaway destination for Seattleites. But the casino resort has played roles recently in true crime murders.

Along with the Tauave/Letoi case, police last year solved a decades-long cold case murder that dates back to 1972.

In April of 2019, police arrested Terrence Miller of Edmonds, Washington, after matching his DNA to the 1972 murder crime scene. In August of 1972, Jody Loomis, 20, left her home on a bicycle towards a horse stable. She never made it, and her body was instead found naked and dead in the woods.

Traditional DNA evidence and genealogic analysis linked Miller to the Loomis murder. Police matched his DNA after Miller discarded a coffee cup at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

Free on $1 million bond, Miller committed suicide earlier this month before a jury was set to read its verdict in the case. Though rare, the jury still delivered its verdict despite the defendant being deceased. Miller was found guilty of Loomis’ murder.

Nearby Murder

Just two miles south of Tulalip Resort Casino along I-15 is the Quil Ceda Creek Casino — another casino owned and operated by the Tulalip Tribes of Washington.

Quil Creek was also the site of a recent murder investigation. In February of 2018, two brothers followed a man from the Quil Creek casino and robbed him of his $7,000 in gambling winnings. The brothers confessed that they accidentally shot the victim in the head during the theft.

They were found guilty of first-degree murder in December of 2019. Jorge Martinez Jr. was sentenced to 36 years in prison, and his brother Jose Antonio Nava received 27 years behind bars.