Big Island police suspend search for missing 6-year-old

Facebook page says family, friends and volunteers are still searching

Big Island police suspend search for missing 6-year-old

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Big Island police have suspended their search for a 6-year-old boy who has been missing since Friday.

Authorities announced the heartbreaking decision on Christmas Eve, saying they’d notified Benjamin Rapoza’s family of the decision.

Firefighters have also said they have no plans to continue their active search Wednesday, but stressed that could change if they get new information.

Later on the Benjamin Rapoza facebook page, this message was posted:

“We’re still here! Volunteers, family and friends will remain active and continue our search efforts,” read the post.

First responders said they conducted an extensive search on foot, by air and at sea for Rapoza, who was last seen Friday about 3 p.m. at a home in Keaukaha.

On Monday, divers joined the search, focusing on area that stretched about a quarter mile offshore.

Crews continue to search in Hilo for 6-year-old Benjamin
Crews continue to search in Hilo for 6-year-old Benjamin (Source: Family)

On Tuesday, dozens volunteers also expanded their search on land for Rapoza, venturing into dense forests and playing his favorite tune, the theme song from “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Rapoza has autism and is nonverbal, but is said to be able to respond to his name including his nickname “Big Boy.”

HPD Capt. Greg Esteban said the boy went missing while their family visited the home of a family friend. He added that there were indications that he was in the back of the property, near the water.

Police said while they’ve suspended their active search, the investigation into Rapoza’s disappearance is continuing and they’re still taking tips.

Rapoza is described as about 3 feet tall about weighs 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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