Search for missing 6-year-old boy on Big Island continues into fourth day

Big Island authorities, volunteers continue search for missing 6-year-old boy

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The massive search for a 6-year-old boy on Hawaii Island continued into its fourth day Monday.

Hawaii County Civil Defense said Benjamin “Benny” Rapoza was last seen about 3 p.m. Friday at the intersection of Kalanianaole Avenue and Koloa Street in Keaukaha. He was wearing a diaper.

Police said he has been diagnosed with autism and is non-verbal.

Members of the Hawaii Fire Department, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the U.S. Coast Guard and a team from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children participated in search efforts over the weekend.

HPD Capt. Greg Esteban said the boy went missing after their family visited a home in Keaukaha. He added that there were indications that he was in the back of the property.

Rescuers and Benny’s relatives have been searching for him non-stop.

"I’ve been out here since last night, I didn’t go home yet. Walked until 3:00 this morning. No signs or anything of him yet,” said Benny’s uncle Rico Rapoza.

“We’re encouraging the public, if they see anything that leads us to where Benny may be, to please notify police immediately,” Esteban said.

“We continue to hold out hope that we’ll be able to find him,” he said. “We’re allocating as much resources, as much personnel as we can."

Authorities are searching for a 6-year-old Big Island boy who has been missing since Friday afternoon.
Authorities are searching for a 6-year-old Big Island boy who has been missing since Friday afternoon. (Source: Hawaii News Now)

Those who don’t know the boy joined in the search efforts Saturday.

“We’re not related, we’re just looking. We’re going to help look for Benny,” said volunteer searcher, Cym. “Everyone’s searching the block in Hilo town right now. We got a crew, there’s a bunch of us down there right now.”

At a surf meet at Richardson’s Beach, surfers and spectators spent an hour away from the contest to help with rescue efforts.

“We’re actually doing the contest right over there, and the guy on the mic said for one hour we search for the little boy. Then we come back in one hour," said one volunteer searcher. “They said the more people, the better. That’s why we’re here searching.”

Police say Benny is also attracted to electronics, machines and the cartoon, Spongebob Squarepants. Benny’s loved ones are asking volunteers to play music from the show in hopes of finding him.

So far, the search has been hampered by rain and high surf. Hawaii County firefighters had to pull their rescue vessel from search efforts because of the rough ocean currents. No injuries were reported.

Hilo residents are being asked to search their properties and vehicles for the boy. Family members described him as shy.

Benny is described as about 3 feet tall about weights 50 pounds. He has short brown hair, brown eyes and a fair complexion.

Anyone with information on the child is asked to call HPD Detective BJ Sagon at 961-8883, or Crimestoppers at 961-8300.

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