Missing Child Center Hawaii plays critical role in assisting law enforcement, families

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 3:16 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 5:22 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the search for Isabella “Ariel” Kalua continues, there are a number of agencies involved in the case.

Among them: The state Attorney General’s Missing Child Center, a clearinghouse that assists law enforcement and affected families.

The center plays a critical role in what often becomes a multi-faceted investigation.

“When a family reaches out to us, we first confirm that the child has been reported missing to law enforcement,” said Missing Child Center Hawaii coordinator Amanda Leonard.

“That’s our first step to confirm that there is an open case. Once that’s confirmed with the police department, then we take steps to intake the case and issue a statewide flyer.”

Leonard says her office cannot comment on the specifics of active investigations.

But she told Hawaii News Now the center is involved with 40 ongoing cases, such as that of missing 1-year-old Kytana Ancog and the Big Island’s Benjamin Rapoza, who disappeared in 2019.

When an investigation heads to the center, they must act quickly.

“It can’t compare to the stress that families are dealing with and the trauma of losing a child or having a child go missing,” Leonard said. “So we do whatever we can to support that family and support the law enforcement agency responding to increase the chances that the child will be safely found.”

She adds most cases involve endangered teenage runaways. Instances of critically missing young children are extremely rare in Hawaii, she said.

Though it’s unknown if or when Isabella will be found, Leonard is encouraged to see the public support.

“We are so proud of our community for ... mobilizing to locate Isabella,” Leonard said.

“We’re following it on the news. We’re following it on social media and we can’t say enough about our community. Particularly, the Waimanalo community for the great work that they’re doing out there.”

Any families seeking assistance can contact the center at 808-586-1449.

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