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Police revealed new details on Friday in the case of a 6-year-old Hawaiian girl reported missing in September who they now say was murdered by her adoptive parents.
Isaac Kalua, 53, and Lehua Kalua, 42, have been charged with second-degree murder in the death of their adopted daughter Isabella Kalua, 6, whose birth name was Ariel Sellers. They were arrested on Wednesday and made their first court appearance on Friday, at which time the sworn statements of a detective in the case made in the applications for their arrests were made public.
For the first time since the arrests, those documents make clear that the Kalua's longstanding story about the Sept. 13 disappearance of Isabella Kalua fell apart after the Honolulu Police Department interviewed the missing girl's 12-year-old biological sister, who had also been adopted by the family.
According to the sister, at some point before Aug. 21 (when Isaac Kalua told police, and records confirm, he went to his doctor with symptoms he said were from Covid-19) Lehua and Isaac Kalua woke her up around 3:30 a.m. and saw her sister, with duct tape over her nose and mouth and not breaking, in the dog cage in which the parents had been regularly keeping her. She told police that Lehua took Isabella out of the cage and put her in a tub of water "to see if she would wake up" but was unsuccessful. They then had Isabella's older sister help carry Isabella's body into a bedroom, and told her to go back to bed — but to keep the events of the night a secret.
The sister told police that she didn't know what the couple did with the remains of the 6-year-old.
Police believe Isabella Kalua was killed on or around Aug. 18. Isaac Kalua told police that he worked on Aug. 19, had Aug. 20 off and went to the doctor with Covid-19 symptoms on Aug. 21, resulting in a two-week quarantine from then until Sept. 7. Isabella's older sister told police that her adoptive father had faked Covid in order to have time off of work to "help mom," by which she said she meant, "to get rid of the stuff ... evidence."
Lehua Kalua then reported Isabella Kalua missing on Sept. 13.
The older sister also told police that Lehua Kalua had purchased the dog cage in which the couple kept Isabella off the internet, and that they did so because Isabella would attempt to obtain food at night to feed herself, as the woman would not feed her. The older sister's efforts to give Isabella food anyway reportedly upset Lehua Kalua.
The duct tape she reportedly saw on Isabella's face the night of her death was, according to the older sister, a regular occurrence in response to Isabella's efforts to obtain food. Both girls were restrained with duct tape on multiple other occasions, according to the sister; she believe that Isaac Lehua obtained the duct tape from his job at the Pearl Harbor Navy shipyard.
A public defender was appointed for both Isaac and Lehua Kalua, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser; he entered pleas of not guilty on their behalf during their court appearance on Friday. Both were held without bail and a preliminary hearing was set for Nov. 26.
Police are still searching for Isabella Kalua's remains.
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