Army of relatives, volunteers continues search for missing Maui woman
MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Family members and friends said they aren’t giving up hope that they’ll find a 35-year-old woman who went missing last week on a popular hiking trail.
On Sunday, Maui police and firefighters suspended their search for Amanda Eller ― who is believed to have gone hiking Wednesday at the Kahakapao Loop Trail of the Makawao Forest Reserve.
She was reported missing Thursday after failing to return home. And her vehicle was found in the parking lot of the hike.
Her boyfriend, Ben Konkol, said at a news conference Sunday that the night Eller didn’t return home, he knew something was wrong.
“We have very good communication so the moment that she did not arrive home that night, I knew something was wrong and did not feel good,” he said.
He said dozens of volunteers and relatives are forming search groups and covering the trail with a search grid.
“She may be unconscious. She may be hidden,” he said, “so we need to move slowly. We need to move efficiently and diligently.”
From Thursday to Sunday, first responders searched the trail on foot and by air in hopes of finding a trace of Eller. Scores of volunteers joined them.
“We need boots on the ground and little prayers on the side," friend and search organizer Sarah Haynes said.
On Sunday morning, Maui police announced they were no longer actively involved in search efforts, but will follow-up on potential leads.
Authorities don’t know if Eller is lost or hurt.
Foul play is also a possibility.
“It is our hope that she’s in the forest, but if someone has taken her, we’re not interested in you. We just want our daughter back,” said Eller’s mother, Julia, as she fought back tears.
Eller’s friends and family said they’d redouble their search efforts.
Her relatives, who flew to Maui from the mainland on Sunday, are grateful for the outpouring of support.
“It’s unbelievable. To put it in context, I don’t know what’s typical, but what I’m hearing is this is a very good response,” said John Eller, Amanda’s father.
Haynes said it’s not out of the ordinary for Eller to go to the hike and for her to leave her belongings in the car, including her cell phone.
"She likes to unplug,” Haynes said.
“It appears to us at this point that she is either way off the trail ― you know having gotten injured, or fallen maybe ― or somebody interrupted her between her car and her run,” she added.
Trained search dogs, drones, equestrian groups, helicopters and the mother of another missing Maui woman have joined the search for Eller.
Kimberlyn Scott spent her Mother’s Day with the Eller family in hopes to help find Amanda.
Scott’s daughter, “Charli,” disappeared in 2014. Only fragments of Carly’s jaw bone were ever found. Carly’s boyfriend, Steven Capobianco, is serving a life term for her murder.
“People did this for me. People came out on Valentine’s Day an dedicated their couple’s day to searching for Charli and I definitely owe that back," said Scott.
“There’s every reason to keep on searching, we have not found her.”
If you have any information on her whereabouts, call Maui police. The family is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to her safe return. Tipsters can remain anonymous.
To help with search efforts, click here.
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