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During a lull in the stream of visitors paying their respects at a makeshift memorial for the 6-year-old girl allegedly killed by her adoptive parents, FBI agents began digging Thursday in the family’s Waimanalo yard.
The agents, armed with shovels, probes and markers, did some shallow excavating, probing and marking of the yard, apparently in preparation for further searching for the child’s remains.
Meanwhile, others used a pickax to pry open manhole covers along the sidewalk and at the intersection of Kakaina and Hihimanu streets, and took photos inside.
Police announced Wednesday afternoon at a news conference that Isabella Kalua, called by her birth name Ariel by her biological family, missing for two months, was killed by her adoptive parents. Police suspect her remains are somewhere on the family’s property at 41-610 Puha St.
Police said the couple killed her sometime in mid-August and reported her missing 6:25 a.m. Sept. 13, a month later.
Residents say there is a small area of freshly poured concrete off the driveway they find suspicious.
The Honolulu Police Department on Wednesday arrested Lehua and Isaac K. Kalua III, she at their home and he at his workplace at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. They were charged with second-degree murder and are being held without bail.
The Kaluas are scheduled to make their initial appearance this morning at Honolulu District Court.
Chief Rade Vanic said police believe the Kaluas are the only people responsible for the girl’s death, and no one else.
After learning the news, the missing girl’s biological family held a spontaneous vigil of about 50 or so people Wednesday night, lining the street with candles in front of the makeshift memorial — a fence near her home covered in balloons, stuffed animals and signs that include, “Bring Ariel home.”
HPD Homicide Lt. Deena Thoemmes said police had suspicions of foul play early on, but needed solid evidence to prove probable cause before obtaining a warrant to search the property as thoroughly as they did Wednesday and Thursday.
The Kaluas have maintained their silence publicly, and William Harrison, a criminal defense lawyer, who said early on that he was their spokesman, did not return calls for comment Wednesday and Thursday.
He said he advised them not to speak publicly about the girl’s disappearance because they were receiving death threats. A friend at their home said they were advised not to speak because “it might jeopardize the case.”
Community members came out by the hundreds, and some said they thought it suspicious that the Kaluas could be found sitting in their garage or home not far from the command post where the biological family, the community, law enforcement and other governmental agencies gathered daily to search for the little girl.
Deja Adkins, 20, of Kalihi was one of those who searched for days and supported the biological family. She returned Thursday with her 2-year-old son and other family members.
“Happy but sad,” is how she felt, she said. “I had this little faith that she would be found alive. I just hope they find her to put her biological family at peace.”
Her mother, Bernie Adkins, 59, her eyes filled with tears, said, “So heartbroken for this little girl. It’s so sad. I feel so emotional.”
“I woke up this morning and told my kids, ‘We have …….