HONOLULU (KHON2) — It’s been almost a year since six-year-old Isabella Kalua, also known as Ariel Sellers, was reported missing. Her adoptive parents remain in custody awaiting trial for her murder, but the little girl’s body still hasn’t been found. Her biological family is holding on to hope they’ll one day be able to lay her to rest and are planning a vigil to honor her memory.
September 12th marks one year since little Isabella was first reported missing by her adoptive parents Lehua and Isaac Kalua.
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It’s not the kind of anniversary anyone looks forward to.
“It’s way overwhelming for us,” said Lana Idao, Isabella’s biological aunt. “We thought we would find her really fast, but unfortunately no. We’re still looking.”
Her disappearance gripped the state and shocked the tight-knit Waimanalo community.
Hundreds came out to search for her, and even after police officially suspended search efforts, her family and community members refused to give up hope.
That is until November 2021 when police arrested the Kaluas and searched their home. Court documents revealed Isabella was repeatedly abused and that she was allegedly killed almost a month before Lehua Kalua reported her missing.
According to prosecutors, Lehua Kalua duct taped Isabella’s mouth and nose and put her in a dog cage, where she lost consciousness.
“Everybody just broke down,” Idao said fighting back tears. “You know, it’s still hard. It’s hard trying to talk about it. We like to be tough you know and say, ‘Hey,’ but it’s still hard.”
She still wants answers.
“Where is she?,” Idao asked. “Just tell us where she is so we can lay her to rest.”
She said Isabella’s siblings remain in the foster system and she hasn’t seen them since early Summer.
“I’m hoping they’re doing well, getting the help that they need. The love, the communication, the affection, everything that a child needs.”
The family is holding a candlelight vigil in Isabella’s honor Saturday, Sept. 17 at 5:30 p.m. at Waimanalo District Park.
Idao said they are meeting in front of the Kalua’s former house to put lei and flowers on the make-shift memorial along the fence before heading to the park. She said all are welcome. Anyone planning to come should bring candles, horns and signs.
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The Kaluas are being held without bail. They’re charged with murder, hindering prosecution, and multiple counts of endangering the welfare of a minor. Their trial is set for February 2023.