Day 4: Police say foul play has not been ruled out in search for missing 6-year-old girl in Waimanalo

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The search for 6-year-old Isabella Kalua continued Thursday, Sept. 16. She was last seen sleeping in her bedroom of her Waimanalo home on Sunday, Sept. 12.

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, Sept. 13.

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Lt. Deena Thoemmes of the Criminal Investigation Division released the following statement on Thursday:

Since Monday, the HPD has been working tirelessly with the community to locate Isabella. 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. 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. The HPD is grateful to the community and city, state, federal and military agencies for their assistance and continued support in the search for Isabella. 

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

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, her adoptive parents filed paperwork to withdraw her to home-school.

“It’s kind of, like, suspicious; like things that just have been occurring, things we are being told, it kind of, just doesn’t make any sense, and it’s kind of making us question more, like what was the reason? From our understanding, we thought she was still enrolled at Waimanalo Elementary School,” said Alena Kaeo, Isabella’s biological aunt.

Multiple law enforcement agencies and hundreds of volunteers have been scouring the Waimanalo area this week, leaving no stone unturned by marking paths with purple ribbon. A witness told KHON2 that a photo album with pictures of Isabella was found last week at a dump and was turned into police.

Additionally, officials said a bag with toys and slippers that could possibly belong to Isabella was found Thursday at a riverbed in the area near Bellows Field Beach Park. Police officers and the military were at the scene investigating.

Honolulu Ocean Safety and the Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) also joined the search in the Waimanalo area. They will be searching the ocean area fronting the riverbed where the bag was found.

“Right now we’re sending the drone out to kind of do a thermal search over the marsh here in this area,” said HFD Captain Robert Imai. “If it’s a person, it will give off a heat signature with the thermal. With a visible camera, you can see we have a split-screen, we can see the shape of a person if somebody’s out there too.”

“We just ask that everyone please continue to pray for us and the family pray that Ariel comes home safely,” Kaeo said.

Jamie Kumai, Isabella’s biological aunt, flew in from Maui as soon as she heard of Isabella’s disappearance. She told KHON2 that the photo album is now in police custody.

Waimanalo resident Sunshine Willis was among the last group to return to the district park as she searched for the six-year-old into the night. She had searched the area of Bellows days before without any luck, but that will not stop her from searching.

“I feel like we haven’t found anything, nothing to keep our hopes up,” Willis said. “We are going to come back again tomorrow, we are going to keep searching until we find her.”

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.

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Anyone with information should call the police or CrimeStoppers at (808) 955-8300.

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