Suspects Arrested In Slaying Of American Prosecutor On Tiny Island Of Yap

Rachelle Bergeron was gunned down outside her home in Yap on Oct. 14 after she had returned home from an evening run with her dog. 

By Jill Sederstrom
Rachelle Bergeron Ap

Authorities have arrested multiple suspects in the slaying of an American prosecutor who was gunned down outside her home on the tiny Pacific island of Yap earlier this month.

Yap Governor Henry S. Falan issued a statement announcing the arrest of suspects in the case, but he declined to provide the names of those arrested, according to the Pacific Daily News.

"The next stage in the investigation will be the court proceedings as the state moves toward the final stage of conviction," he said. 

Rachelle Bergeron, who was serving as the acting attorney general on the island, was shot along with her dog the evening of Oct. 14 after returning from an evening run.

Her husband of nearly a year, Simon Haemmerling, had been inside the couple’s home baking brownies with a young local girl the couple had been helping to care for when the gunfire broke out.

“I just kind of fell by her, not really thinking about anything else,” he told ABC News shortly after her death. “She was just crouched over and breathing really heavy.”

Bergeron was brought to a local hospital but died as a result of her injuries.

Those who knew Bergeron—who was originally from Wisconsin—said her job on the island and her commitment to stopping human trafficking may have made her some dangerous enemies.

Amos Collins, a friend of the couple and coworker of Haemmerling’s, called her position as acting attorney general the “most dangerous job” on the island.

Bergeron moved to Yap in 2015 after working as a human rights lawyer in New York and India.

She had been planning to celebrate her one-year anniversary with Haemmerling this month. Her father Thomas Bergeron told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that during their final conversation the night before she was killed she said she was planning to move back to the United States with her husband.

“She was very courageous,” Thomas said. “She loved to defend those who were mistreated and was willing to take a stand for them.”

The investigation into the 33-year-old’s death was handled by a joint team that included the Yap State Police Department, the Office of the Attorney General, the Federated States of Micronesia’s Department of Justice and the FBI.

“We will keep the public informed at the appropriate time as the court case moves ahead,” Falan said.

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