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Weeklong Search For 6-Year-Old Isabella Kalua Has Been Suspended

Isabella Kalua was last seen sleeping in her Waimānalo bedroom on the night of Sept. 12.

By Jax Miller
Isabella Kalua Pd

The weeklong search for a 6-year-old girl who disappeared from her adoptive parents’ home has been suspended.

Isabella Kalua was last seen sleeping in her bedroom at her Waimānalo residence on Sept. 12 at approximately 9:00 p.m., according to the Honolulu Police Department. At the time of her disappearance, she was wearing a black hoodie, black leggings, colorful socks, and Nike slides with pink soles.

Multiple law enforcement agencies and hundreds of volunteers participated in the subsequent searches for Isabella, who was born Ariel Sellers, according to KHON 2. Authorities gave no reason as to why they suspended the search on Monday.

Lt. Deena Thoemmes of the Honolulu Police Department held a press conference on Friday, confirming that investigators found a garbage bag of “items” in a canal at Bellows Air Force Station, according to KITV-4. Thoemmes said they were specifically examining a photo album but did not detail the album’s contents.

“At this time, any and all pieces of items that the public may find that we may say is possible, we’re going to recover it,” said Thoemmes, according to KITV-4. “But it’s too early for us to conduct examinations and test the items; it takes time for that, so that’s why we can’t confirm that it is tied to the case.”

Isabella lived with her adoptive parents, who took her and her siblings in as foster children. They have not participated in the searches for the missing girl, according to KITV-4.

“I have spoken to them, and the police have spoken to them, and because of death threats that they’ve had, on social media and otherwise, they should not go out physically and help,” said the family’s attorney, William Harrison. “But they have been assisting by having family members go out and help, as well as providing food and water to the searchers that are going out there.”

Sonny and Lehua Kalua told the Associated Press that they formally adopted Isabella in January.

“We’re instructed by the detectives from day one that we’re not supposed to talk to reporters,” Sonny said.

Harrison said his clients believe Isabella was abducted or wandered off on her own, according to the Star-Advertiser. The attorney claimed Isabella had a history of wandering out of the home to sleep in the yard and that electronic locks would “confirm” when the child left the house.

Sonny and Lehua notified police at 6:00 a.m. when they found the child was gone, according to Harrison.

In the past two years, Child Welfare Services became involved with the family after the child sustained two injuries, according to Hawaii News Now. In October 2019, Isabella suffered a broken finger. Four months later, Isabella broke her leg after an alleged trampoline accident, according to Hawaii News Now. In both instances, social workers found no evidence of abuse, the news outlet reported.

While foul play has not been determined in Isabella’s disappearance, it also hasn’t been ruled out.

“We have conducted numerous interviews; however, there are still individuals, to include acquaintances and family members, who have yet to come forward to be interviewed,” Honolulu police stated in a release cited by KITV-4. “We hope that this will change in the near future as the investigation and search for Isabella continues. At this time, foul play has not been ruled out.”

According to KITV-4, Kalua’s biological relatives have participated in the searches for Isabella.

“I don’t want to think the worse [sic] case scenario, but it is always a possibility,” Isabella’s biological aunt, Alena Kaeo, told KITV-4. “Again, I’m trying to keep my faith as strong as possible, and I pray. I pray hard that she is safe. I don’t want to think the worst, but it is a possibility.”

Amanda Leonard, coordinator and branch chief of the Missing Child Center – Hawaii told KHON 2 about the risk factor involved with missing children.

“That can be either a parent or family abduction or a stranger or acquaintance abduction, and the safety risk is going to be potential harm by the abductor to the child,” said Leonard. “I often say time is the enemy because you have to understand that the folks responding to a missing child incident, especially a critically missing child incident, are running against the clock. So it’s imperative that all resources are being utilized in real-time, and we all continue to support the responders in these matters as much as possible.”

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Isabella Kalua is urged to contact Honolulu Crime Stoppers at 808-955-8300.