Adoptive parents in Hawaii kept girl who died in dog cage with duct tape over mouth, court docs say

The adoptive parents of 6-year-old Isabella “Ariel” Kalua were arrested Wednesday following a raid of their home and subsequently charged with murder.
Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 2:40 PM MST
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HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now/Gray News) - Court documents released Friday reveal horrific new allegations against the adoptive parents accused of killing 6-year-old Isabella “Ariel” Kalua, including that they kept her in a dog cage in the bathroom with duct tape on her mouth and refused to feed her, Hawaii News Now reported.

The graphic new details were included in a complaint made public Friday, the same day Isaac and Lehua Kalua are due to make their first appearance in court for the missing girl’s death.

The documents reveal an older sibling of Isabella’s told police that the adoptive parents had asked her to “keep a secret” ― that Isabella was kept in a dog cage in the bathroom with duct tape over her nose and mouth and that she “didn’t wake up.”

Police determined Isabella was last seen on surveillance cameras at the home on Aug. 18, according to the documents. It was on or around that date that the 6-year-old is believed to have been killed.

In an interview Nov. 5 with police, the older sibling said one early morning the Kaluas went to check on Isabella in the bathroom and “she didn’t wake up.”

The sibling told police she was there and was told to go back to sleep.

The sibling said she did not know where the couple put Isabella the next morning, the documents said.

According to the complaint, Isabella’s older sibling also told police that the Kaluas worked to get “rid of the stuff ... evidence” by coming up with a ruse that allowed Isaac Kalua to take several days off work.

As part of a series of lies, Isaac Kalua claimed to have COVID and even got a COVID test.

Experts outline challenges prosecutors could face in murder case against adoptive parents

The sibling told police that Lehua Kalua bought the dog cage on the internet even though the family didn’t have a dog at the time. The sibling said the adoptive mother bought the cage because the 6-year-old girl would “sneak around at night and want to eat because she was hungry.”

The girl was hungry, the sibling said, because Lehua Kalua would not feed her.

“So Lehua bought the cage to keep (Isabella) inside of it at night,” the complaint said. The sibling added that “she believes the duct tape came from Isaac’s job.”

The Kaluas reported the girl missing in mid-September, a full month after police believe they killed the girl. Authorities said the adoptive parents were lying from the start.

Investigators were back at the family’s property on Thursday, searching for Isabella Kalua’s remains. Sources told Hawaii News Now that police believe the 6-year-old died in that Puha Street home and that her body was disposed of before she was reported missing in mid-September.

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