Adoptive Parents Plead Not Guilty in 6-Year-Old Girl's Death

Isaac and Lehua Kalua of Oahu charged with murdering their adopted daughter
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2021 9:50 AM CST
Updated Nov 14, 2021 7:00 AM CST
Cops: Parents Who Reported Girl Missing Killed Her a Month Before
Isabella Kalua, previously known as Ariel Sellers.   (Honolulu Police Department)

Update: The adoptive parents of a 6-year-old Hawaii girl have pleaded not guilty to charges their horrific abuse led to her death. Per CNN, Isaac and Lehua Kalua, both charged with second-degree murder, entered their pleas via an attorney on Friday in the death of Isabella Kalua, previously known as Ariel Sellers. Our original story from Nov. 11 follows:

More than 300 civilians joined 200 law enforcement officers in an unsuccessful eight-day search for a 6-year-old girl in Hawaii after her adoptive parents reported her missing on Sept. 13. Honolulu police now say Isabella Kalua, previously known as Ariel Sellers, had already been dead for a month at that point, as her parents well knew. "We believe that Ariel was murdered sometime in the middle of August 2021 by her adoptive parents," Maj. Ben Moszkowicz, head of the police agency's Criminal Investigation Division, said at a Wednesday press conference, which followed the arrests of Lehua Kalua, 43, and Isaac Kalua, 52, per Civil Beat. "We believe the evidence leads to the Kaluas and no one else," added Interim Chief Rade Vanic.

The couple claimed Isabella disappeared after they put her to bed around 9pm on Sept. 12. But "there were some things that just weren't adding up for us, and we just followed up on what we believed the evidence suggested to us," HPD Homicide Lt. Deena Thoemmes said. Moszkowicz said the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit "helped crack the case." After reviewing the evidence, they "told us 'maybe look at it this way' or 'maybe when you talk to this person, talk about this,'" he said. The missing-persons case was reclassified as a murder case late last week. Isaac Kalua was arrested at his workplace, the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, early Wednesday, while his wife was arrested during a raid on the couple's Waimanalo home on the island of Oahu

Both are due in court on Friday to face charges of second-degree murder, per KITV. As Isabella's body hasn't been found, a cause of death has not been determined. A search of the couple’s home is expected to continue into Thursday. Meanwhile, authorities are asking anyone who had contact with the Kaluas, Isabella, or her sisters from 2019 to August of this year to call Crime Stoppers at 808-955-8300. "You may have important information that could help us," Moszkowicz said, per Hawaii News Now. "No detail at this point is too small." The outlet previously reported that Child Welfare Services investigated two serious injuries Isabella had suffered over the past two years, finding there was no maltreatment. (Read more child murder stories.)

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