Isaac and Lehua Kalua have been charged with the murder of their 6-year-old adoptive daughter, Isabella “Ariel” Kalua. The parents originally reported the young girl missing on Sept. 13, but police now believe that they killed her sometime in August. The investigation is ongoing and Honolulu officers continue to look for a body.
Police have not disclosed what evidence pointed them toward a murder case instead of a missing persons case because they believe that it will be damaging to their investigation. Officers are certain that their evidence points to the Kaluas as suspects.
“Unfortunately, what began as a search for a missing girl turned into a murder investigation focused on the Kaluas. We believe the evidence leads to the Kaluas and no one else,” said HPD interim Chief Rade Vanic.
The couple was charged with second-degree murder and taken into police custody on Wednesday after a raid on their home in Waimanalo, Hawaii. According to neighbors, the raid was very dramatic and involved flash bangs and gun shots. Police have said that there were no shots fired and that the only loud noises were from when police entered the home.
At around 7:20 a.m. police escorted Lehua Kalua out of her home in handcuffs and then later arrested Isaac at his job at the Pearl Harbor shipyard. Isaac and Lehua are being held without bail and their first court appearance is scheduled for Friday.
Police continue to search the home on Puha Street for signs of the girl’s remains. The couple was served search warrants for both their home and vehicles. So far, no evidence has been found.
The young girl’s four siblings, who also lived with the Kaluas, have been taken by Child Welfare Services.
The search for Isabella Kalua started on Sept. 13 when her adoptive parents officially reported her missing. According to Lehua and Isaac, they had last seen their daughter on Sept. 12 when they tucked her into bed. The parents said that the young girl frequently slept outside.
According to police, in the beginning of the investigation the adoptive parents were very helpful to the police department, but as the search went on they stopped cooperating. Lt. Deena Thoemmes from the HPD believes the couple was lying to police from the beginning.
During the first week of search efforts, Ariel’s biological family organized search teams in Oahu and they got a large community following to help them. HPD said that there was over 200 police officers and 300 volunteers actively looking for Isabella.
Traces of the young girl were never found. The HPD suspended the search for the 6-year-old on Sept. 20 but said that the investigation was still active.
The police department have thanked the community for their help in the search. Volunteers along with the biological family have started to gather in front of the Kalua home and the child welfare building demanding answers to the murder of the little girl.
“Very emotional. It’s the beginning, it’s the start for us. It’s hard,” said biological aunt Lana Idao.
Since the investigation started, it was discovered that the young girl had two serious injuries in the last two years that were investigated by the state. In October 2019 Isabella broke her finger and their was a delay in treatment. Four months later in January 2020 she broke her leg and was taken to the hospital.
While child welfare investigated, experts determined that there were no obvious signs of abuse or mistreatment. Stephan Lane, a foster parent and advocate for children, said that there should have been a better investigation into these injuries.
“There’s no reasonable explanation why a parent, foster adoptive or natural would delay the treatment or reporting of this kind of an injury,” Lane said.
Lane also told reporters that the placement of Isabella and her siblings with the Kalua family was a red flag to begin with because Isaac Kalua had a prior criminal record. According to reports, 20 years ago Kalua was charged with three counts of terroristic threatening and assault and received five years probation. Lane said that because of this record, the children should have never been placed under the care of the family.
Police are asking anyone with information about the disappearance of Isabella Kalua or who may have seen or talked to Isabella and her siblings from 2019 to August 2021 to contact Honolulu Crimestoppers at (808) 955-8300.