FULL TEXT: After serving nearly twenty-three years in the Territorial prison in Honolulu for her part in three brutal murders, Pulolo, an aged Hawaiian woman, now nearly sixty years of age, was released on Christmas day on pardon from Governor Pinkham. The woman was known as a kahuna, and was greatly feared, it is said, on the Island of Lanai, where her crimes were committed early in the year 1892. At the time of her release, she had been in prison probably longer than any other prisoner in the institution.
Pulolo’s crimes were among the most notorious ever committed in these islands, and her brutality in their commission so stirred the citizens of Maui and Lanai that after the first trial, when she was convicted by a native jury, the second trial was transferred from Wailuku to Kauai, to obtain a more impartial jury. During her many later years in prison it is said Pulolo has reformed and repented of her early evil deeds. She comes forth now an aged, broken and deeply chastened woman.
The story of her crimes and their motive, as related by the newspaper files of 22 years ago, is briefly that she claimed the powers of a kahuna, or sorceress, and, falling in love with her sister’s husband, set out to kill the sister and her own husband, that she might be free to many the brother-in-law.
In order to accomplish this without arousing suspicion of her real motives, she began by punishing a 6-year-old boy, the son of her elder brother. Assisted by her retinue of “soldiers” she first assaulted her husband, cowed him and then literally beat the child to death.
Aided actively by the sweetheart she wished to marry she then assaulted her sister. The murderous couple bound the sister and buried her head in hot sand until she was suffocated. Placing that body beside the corpse of the boy in the little family house Pulolo called upon two of her servitors and seized Kaholokai, her sweet heart and former aide, caused him to be bound and then beat him to death with her own hands. It was understood that her sudden change of tactics, in turning on her sweetheart and killing him, was through fear that he would reveal the true details of the affair.
On the morning following the triple murder, still exercising her influence over her retinue, she had the house and all three bodies burned, to hide the evidence of the crime, and prepared a plausible story which her friends were instructed to tell in explanation of the deaths.
Some old-time Hawaiians placed great faith in her alleged power as a kahuna, and a story is even told of her use of the baleful occult influence some years ago, during her incarceration. This is to the effect that she told another female prisoner who had incurred her enmity:
“You will not live 24 hours after you leave prison.” The tale is that her prophecy came true, the woman taking ill immediately after her release and dying within the time prescribed by Pulolo.
[“’Kahuna of Lanai’ Gets Full Pardon Pulolo, Aged Hawaiian Woman Murder Released By Executive Clemency After 23 Years Murdered Nephew, Sister and Lover.” Mani News (Wailuku, Territory of Hawaii), Jan. 2, 1915, p. 5]
For more cases, see: Women Who Like to Torture