Drones and canine units are key tools in the search for remains of Isabella Kalua

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Experts say drones, soil samples, and canine units are all important tools in finding the remains of the six-year-old Isabella Kalua.

They say finding her remains will provide key evidence and bring comfort to her loved ones. If it’s a large search area, a combination of different strategies will be used.

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“I think just a ground search — a ground survey you might call it — combined with drones and detector dogs. I really think that’s the best that can be done,” said David Carter, professor of Forensic Sciences at Chaminade University.

Dogs are trained to respond to the odor of decomposition, while drones can be be equipped with thermal imaging cameras to detect heat underground.

“If a body has been buried, that slows decomposition to where an increase in temperature will actually last a little longer,” said Carter.

Experts say investigators will also look at cellphone records of the suspects. GPS in the phones will determine where the suspects have gone over the past few months, and that will help with the search. Even little things like soil samples found in the house can help because certain areas have a specific type of soil.

“We know sandy soil, we know red soil and we have different kind of dirt and fertilizer. So that’s were a forensic type of person would do testing and figure out where that soil comes from,” said Sheryl Sunia, Criminal Justice Program Chair at Hawaii Pacific University.

Sunia says cellphones and computers will also provide clues and records of the websites that suspects have visited and any activity on social media.

“If there were posts on social media, you go back and something’s not right with that post. Look at the date of the post, it doesn’t go away. What you do on your computer doesn’t go away. So all of these things are really important,” said Sunia.

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She adds that with the suspects now arrested, there’s also the tendency for those with information to be more willing to come forward.

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