KHON 2 reports that Isabella Kalua- also known as Ariel Sellers - went missing on 12 September, just a day after the world became obsessed with the disappearance of Gabby Petito.
Unlike Ms Petito, Isabella's disappearance went relatively unreported outside of local media. Her family has nonetheless been searching for any clues as to her whereabouts.
The child was last seen by her adoptive family on 12 September, sleeping in her bedroom. The family reported her missing the next day, claiming she walked out of the house in the middle of the night.
Isabella has been in the foster system since she was a baby, but her biological relatives have been trying to locate her since her disappearance, and are growing frustrated with the lack of developments.
“Everybody is wanting answers, why?” Isabella’s aunt Lana Idao said. “So, I guess to put pressure, where is she? Bring her home?”
Alena Kaeo, another one of Isabella's aunts, said the family was following up on tips when they receive them, but they are losing hope that the girl will be found alive.
“I don’t want to think that way but so much time having passed,” Ms Kaeo said. “It’s hard to have the hope that she may still be able to come home alive, but we pray that’s the case every day.”
Many community members have viewed the claims from her adoptive family with skepticism, as Child Welfare Services workers have twice investigated serious injuries the girl sustained while living with the family. In 2019, Isabella suffered a broken finger, which the family claimed happened when her got the digit caught in a door. A year later the girl broke her leg, which the family said was the result of a trampoline accident.
In both cases the adoptive family was cleared by CWS of any mistreatment.
However, in the incident involving the girl's finger, the family delayed in both reporting and seeking treatment for Isabella's injury, a fact that has drawn suspicion from other foster parents.
“There’s no reasonable explanation why a parent, foster adoptive or natural would delay the treatment or reporting of this kind of an injury,” Stephen Lane a foster parent, told Hawaii News Now.
On 13 September, the day Isabella was reported missing, CWS workers removed her three siblings from the foster parents' home.
Isabella's adopted father, a man identified by police as Isaac Kalua III, has previous convictions from 20 years ago. At the time, he was convicted on three counts of terroristic threatening and assault, and was sentenced to five years probation.
Mr Lane said that fact alone should have disqualified the family from adopting Isabella and her siblings.
“It’s a violation of the Department of Human Services’ foster home parent’s guidelines,” he said.
The department provided Hawaii News Now with a statement concerning the foster family.
"The work Child Welfare Services does with families directly impacts lives, so information is typically confidential. Generally, to avoid or prevent further trauma, and acting in a child’s best interest, CWS does not confirm or deny a family’s involvement in services nor provide comment especially where there is involvement with law enforcement or the courts," the statement said.
"The safety and well-being of every child is our top priority. CWS responds to all reports of child abuse or neglect, and we ask the public to assist by reporting what they see and what they hear."