HONOLULU (AP) — A biological sister of a 6-year-old Hawaii girl reported missing by their adoptive parents told police the parents forced her to keep it a secret that Isabella Kalua was not breathing inside a dog cage in the bathroom, with duct tape on her mouth and nose.
These new details were disclosed in court documents Friday that were filed to support the arrests on Friday of Isaac Kalua and Lehua Kalua. They were adoptive parents of Isabella, two of her siblings, and foster parents of another biological sibling.
The Kaluas on Sept. 13 had reported to police that Isabella — also referred to by Honolulu police by her birth name of Ariel Sellers — was missing and that they had last seen her asleep in her room the night before.
On Wednesday, police arrested the Kaluas and stated that they believed the girl had been murdered a month earlier than they reported her missing. However, a body was not found.
Parents were held indefinitely without bail. They were due to appear before the court Friday. William Harrison, their attorney, did not return phone calls or text messages seeking to be reached by The Associated Press regarding the arrests.
During an interview a week ago with a detective, Isabella’s sister said the Kaluas asked her about two months ago to keep secret what happened: That Isabella “was in the bathroom in a dog cage, duct tape on her mouth and nose, and she didn’t wake up,” according to the police affidavit in support of warrants for the Kaluas’ arrests.
In court records, the sister could only be identified by her initials I.M.K. and she was not given her age.
The police refused to discuss why Isabella was killed during the news conference in which the Kaluas were announced. The timing of the sister’s interview last Friday with the detective coincides with Honolulu police homicide Lt. Deena Thoemmes saying the case turned into a murder investigation at the end of last week.
The sister said she knows Isabella is “dead because she was there,” the court documents said.
“Lehua then filled the bathtub with water and put (Isabella) in it to see if she would wake up, but it did not work,” the documents said.
According to the paperwork, Isabella had to be carried by her sister to her bedroom.
The mother then drained the tub and a few days later, Isaac Kalua went to a hospital to “pretend that he was COVID,” the documents said.
The sister told police she knew he was pretending because he took time off work to “help mom,” the documents said, “to get rid of the stuff … evidence.”
The sister told police Lehua Kalua bought the dog cage on the internet even though they didn’t have a dog. Kalua claimed that she purchased it for Isabella because Isabella was a sneaky eater at night. The sister said Isabella would be hungry because Kalua wouldn’t feed her and the sister tried to sneak food to her sometimes, according to the court documents.
The sister said that Isabella was held in the cage every night.
Lehua Kalua reported Isabella missing to police. She said that Isabella had a bad habit of sleeping in the garage, and sometimes left doors open. Lehua Kalua also stated to police that their home surveillance system never works.
The affidavit states that police found surveillance footage from Sept. 13, which showed Isabella last seen in the cameras on August 18.