'That's the Girl! That's the Amber Alert Girl!'

Disturbing details emerge on alleged kidnapping of rescued Mikell Debina, 15, on Hawaii's Big Island
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2022 2:30 PM CDT
Mom on Saved Teen: 'Heroes ... Ripped Her From Her Abductor'
Suspect Duncan Mahi.   (Hawaii Police Department)

A 15-year-old girl allegedly snatched off a beach on the island of Hawaii is now safe and sound once more, and details are emerging on what may have happened during the 24 hours she was missing. A release from the Hawaii Police Department reported that Mikella Debina was found in Hilo "in good health" on Saturday, one day after she'd been reported abducted from a remote beach near Anaehoomalu Bay, reports Hawaii News Now. Debina's aunt tells the outlet that a man came up to Mikell and Mikell's boyfriend on Friday with a knife, had her niece tie up her boyfriend and blindfold him, then took her away. Per the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, the abduction report at around 1:30pm local time triggered the Big Island's first ever Amber Alert, and authorities set out to find the teen.

In the meantime, Mikell's mother, Cherese Cher Angelel, tells KHON2 her daughter took agency on her own, convincing her alleged kidnapper to stop for something to eat the next day. Per People, the two stopped in at Cafe Pesto in Hilo, which is where Good Samaritans stepped in to rescue her. Restaurant host Bridge Hartman tells the magazine he noticed the suspect and Mikell, who was dressed in men's clothing, start to argue, and suddenly he knew why she looked familiar. "I yelled out, 'That's the girl! That's the Amber Alert girl!'" he says. Customer Kori Takaki sprung into action, helping Hartman get Mikell away from the man she was with and ushering her to a safe place in the restaurant. "Heroes ... ripped her from her abductor," mom Angelel tell Hawaii News Now.

The suspect, identified as 52-year-old Duncan Mahi, was arrested soon after. Newly released court documents cited by Hawaii News Now present a disturbing picture of Mikell's ordeal, noting that Mikell was told she would die if she didn't bind her boyfriend tightly enough with zip ties and tape and he managed to escape. Police also say in the documents that Mahi destroyed Mikell's phone, sexually assaulted her, made her smoke crystal meth, and shackled her to a bus located in the back of his property, giving her only 3 feet of slack. Mahi, who's been charged with kidnapping, terroristic threatening, robbery, sex assault, and trafficking of methamphetamine, remains in custody, with his bail set at $2 million. (More kidnapping stories.)

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