exposing the dark side of adoption
Register Log in

Why adoptive family of missing 6-year-old Waimanalo girl have remained absent in search parties


by: Chelsee Yee, Jenn Boneza

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Day five of the search for Isabella Kalua. The Kalua family broke their silence claiming they have received death threats and are fully cooperating with authorities.

Police confirmed they are continuing to search Bellows — where items of interest were found late Thursday afternoon, Sept. 16 — and they said more people are coming forward.

Isabella was last seen sleeping in her bedroom in Waimanalo Sunday, Sept. 12.

Lt. Deena Thoemmes said it could take up to a week to determine if items found at Bellows in Waimanalo are linked to the disappearance of 6-year-old Isabella.

Attorney William Harrison is a friend of the Kalua family, who adopted Isabella and two of her siblings. Harrison said they want to set the record straight.

“My clients have been absolutely cooperative,” Harrison said. “As I put it in my statement, they allowed the police to come to their house and spend the day in their home. They’ve given up all electronic equipment, made multiple statements to the police department as to anything they’ve asked them about.”

After a police statement on Thursday said some family members and acquaintances had not come forward to be interviewed by police, Lt. Thoemmes clarified that the family is working with police.

“Their family attorney has reached out and has made some arrangements so some of the family can come and meet with us and give us a statement,” she explained.

The investigation and search continued with resources focusing on a canal area in Bellows where a garbage bag with items of interest was found late Thursday.

“It’s too premature to say whether the items are related to this investigation currently,” Thoemmes explained. “The Honolulu Fire Department search team is assisting us in searching the canal for any other possible items or pieces of evidence that we believe may be related.”

Thoemmes also confirmed additional items recovered earlier this week.

“A photo album was found, but we’re not going to release the information as far as who’s in the photos at this time.”

According to a witness, the album was found in a dumpster at Waimanalo Refuse Center a week prior to Isabella’s disappearance and turned into police Monday, Sept. 13.

Hundreds have come out to assist in the search but some said the Kalua family had not been out there. Harrison said that is not true.


“The reason why the Kalua’s, personally, are not down there is cause they’ve been given death threats,” Harrison explained. “We’ve even notified the police of that situation. So I’ve told them, ‘Do not go out and identify yourselves in public. You are a target. Do not do that.’ So, other family members, a lot of them, have gone out and assisted and have also participated in giving food and water to those who are out there searching.”

Harrison also confirmed that Child Protective Services (CPS) took custody of Isabella’s siblings who were also adopted by the Kaluas.

“CPS is always going to take the siblings away if there is this kind of high publicity case,” Harrison explained. “That does not suggest, at all, that my clients have done anything wrong. That’s (CPS’s) procedure they have to undertake in these kinds of cases.”

Fliers of missing six-year-old Isabella Kalua is on a truck on Tuesday in hopes to find her somewhere in Waimanalo.

Harrison said there has been much misinformation surrounding this case, including previous media reports that Isabella was recently taken out of school to be home-schooled. According to Harrison, she has been home-schooled for two years now.

On Thursday, a state Department of Education spokesperson told KHON2 that Isabella attended kindergarten at Waimanalo Elementary via distance learning last school year. In June, the DOE said her adoptive parents filed paperwork to withdraw her to be homeschooled.

With each passing day, Isabella’s biological family said it gets harder to stay positive.

“I don’t want to say that everyone’s losing hope, but at the same time being realistic at the five days,” Isabella’s biological aunt, Alena Kaeo said. “I mean, I don’t know what possible outcome we could have from that. She’s a little girl. I don’t know if she’s out there by herself, could she have survived that five days by herself.”

Lt. Thoemmes said that police are not ruling out foul play because there are still so many unanswered questions.

Hundreds of people joined the search for a missing 6-year-old girl who was last seen sleeping in her room Sunday night. (KHON2)

Police describe Isabella, also known as Ariel Sellers, as Caucasian and mixed-race with brown eyes and hair. She was last seen wearing a black hoodie and leggings, colorful socks and pink-soled Nike slides. Volunteers and authorities have been searching for Isabella since Monday.

Police have asked neighbors to check their yards and properties for anywhere that a young child might be able to hide. Homeowners with security video have also been asked to check their footage to see if there was anything that may help with the investigation.

2021 Sep 17