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Day 3: Search continues for missing 6-year-old girl in Waimanalo


by: Jenn Boneza, Chelsee Yee

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The search for 6-year-old Isabella Kalua continued on Wednesday, Sept. 15. The girl was first reported missing at 5 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 13.

It has been three days and there was still no sign of Isabella, who was last seen in the bedroom of her Waimanalo home on Sunday, Sept. 12, around 9 p.m. Her biological aunt, Lana Idao, has helped with the search and said it had been a struggle.

“Heartbreaking trying to hold it together,” Idao said as he fought back tears. “We’re trying. It’s hard.”

Police described Isabella Kalua, 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.

On Tuesday, KHON2 spoke with her biological aunt, Jamie Kumai, who flew in from Maui as soon as she heard of Isabella’s disappearance. Watch her interview here.

Jamie Kumai, Isabella Kalua’s biological aunty looks at a map of Waimanalo.

Another family member told KHON2 that Isabella and her three siblings were recently adopted and that Child Protective Services took the siblings from the home as the search for Isabella continued.

Police investigated the matter as a missing person case and said Maile Amber Alert was issued due to certain criteria not being met.

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

Multiple law enforcement agencies and dozens of volunteers continued the search Wednesday. By land, Honolulu Police Department (HPD) scoured through thick brush and volunteers left no stone unturned by marking paths with purple ribbon.

“We pretty much covered the whole Waimanalo,” Idao said. “We need to go back out again and do the same thing again.”

Drones captured a birds eye view and hunting for clues by air. The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) scanned nearby waters.

“They’re coming from Kaneohe Bay to out here,” Idao pointed at Makapuu on the map. “(DLNR) is going to meet up with each other with the coast guard — which it’s going to be about three miles out.”

According to a witness, officers searched Waimanalo Refuse Convenience Center, located down the road from the Waimanalo District Park. The witness said police searched the dumpsters as well as junk refrigerators and washers. A second witness said a photo album with pictures of Isabella was found a week ago at the dump and was turned into police.

Jamie Kumai, Isabella’s biological aunt, said she did hear about the photo album. 

“We don’t know too much information about it,” she explained. “All we know is it is in police custody.”

Kumai said they will not give up until they bring Isabella home.

“We’re gonna be out here everyday all day all night for as long as we need to,” Kumai said.

“We don’t want to ask questions. If you know you have her, whatever, just drop her off someplace,” Idao said.

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

“We are thankful for the many families and individuals who are helping to search for Isabella, especially the volunteer search captains and their teams,” Vanic said in a statement. “It’s obvious that she comes from a caring family and community, and we are hopeful that we will find her soon and find her safe.”

2021 Sep 15