Police Launch Investigation After Medics Find Malnourished Child

Josh Higbee
Josh Higbee
Dr. Jeremy Lam
Dr. Jeremy Lam

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- She's half the weight she should be. Now, Honolulu police are trying to figure out how the 12-year-old wound up that way.

The severely malnourished child was rushed to the hospital in critical condition Sunday.

No one answers at the apartment where paramedics rescued a starving child over the weekend. Neighbor Josh Higbee was home when police arrived at the Kinau Street complex Sunday.

"I just kind of heard a couple of radios and a lot of business going on outside," he said. "But I had no idea what was going on."

Police sources say the 12-year-old girl inside was emaciated, or abnormally thin, due to long-term malnourishment. They say there was nothing to eat in the refrigerator. Neighbors we talked to say they didn't even know there was a child living there.

"It saddens me," Higbee said. "Kids are, you know, the most important thing. You gotta take care of kids so, especially if they can't help themselves. It's not, I would've helped, you know, if I would've known."

Sources say the girl weighs about 40 pounds. Doctors say a healthy 12-year-old weighs at least twice that.

"It sounds very significant and abnormal," Dr. Jeremy Lam, pediatrician, said. "I think that 40 pounds is a normal weight for a four- to five-year-old."

Police opened a first-degree assault investigation, and were looking to question the girl's parents.

"Sometimes when you're malnourished for a short time, it's very much reversible," Lam said. "But if it goes on for a long duration of time, the brain and the bones suffer."

Police say there was a child endangerment case involving the same parents about six years ago. The outcome of that is unclear.

There's been no arrest in this current case.