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Hawaii Man Charged with Killing 6-Year-Old Girl Had Multiple Felony Convictions Prior to Adopting Victim He Allegedly Locked in Dog Cage

Lehua Kalua and Isaac K. Kalua III

Lehua Kalua and Isaac K. Kalua III.

A father who was arrested for allegedly killing his 6-year-old adopted daughter previously has been convicted of multiple felonies prior to adopting the victim. For some, the revelations have raised additional questions about how he and his wife were able to pass background checks and obtain state licenses to foster and adopt multiple children.

Isaac K. Kalua III and his wife Lehua Kalua were charged with second-degree murder in the presumed death of their daughter Isabella “Ariel” Kalua. The husband reportedly has a checkered criminal past that includes convictions for several violent felonies.

According to records obtained by Business Insider, the 52-year-old Isaac in 2000 was convicted on four counts of felony assault in addition to one count each of attempted assault and terroristic threatening. Per the report, Isaac pleaded guilty to all of the aforementioned charges and was sentenced to serve five years of probation.

Lehua also reportedly had at least one run-in with law enforcement in 2001 when she was indicted on one count of felony drug promotion. However, that charge was dismissed after she completed a court-ordered drug program, per HawaiiNewsNow.

Under Hawaii state law, any person seeking to become an adoptive parent is subject to a criminal background check and the Department of Human Services “may deny” an application if, among other things, any adult in the prospective home “has been convicted of an offense for which incarceration is a sentencing option.”

In addition to the criminal histories of the Kaluas, Insider obtained records that reportedly show Isaac in June 2020 declared bankruptcy. Isaac reportedly listed Ariel and her two siblings, all of whom the Kaluas formally adopted in January, as dependents on his bankruptcy petition. The Kaluas previously fostered the children for several years after their biological mother lost custody due to housing issues and substance abuse.

The horrific acts of abuse and torture the Kaluas are accused of committing against Ariel have left the island community in shock, particularly since the couple triggered a massive multi-agency search when the husband and wife reported Ariel missing in mid-September. Investigators now believe the girl was killed by the Kaluas on Aug. 18 and that her body was subsequently disposed of.

According to a police affidavit released Friday, Isabella’s 12-year-old sister told investigators that “she was asked to keep a secret by Lehua and Isaac regarding what happened” to her little sister.

“[The sister] stated that the secret was that [Isabella] was in the bathroom in a dog cage, duct tape on her mouth and nose, and she didn’t wake up,” the affidavit states. “[The sister] further stated that she, the two smaller children, Isaac and Lehua were sleeping when they got up at 3:32 a.m. Lehua and [The sister] went to check on [Isabella] in the bathroom and [Isabella] ‘didn’t wake up.’ [The sister] then was told to go back to sleep and Isaac and Lehua stayed up.”

Lehua allegedly put Isabella in a cold bathtub to try and wake her up; when that didn’t work, the sister said she woke up Isaac, authorities say. Two other children identified as I.L.K. and A.J. were also in the home at the time but were said to have been asleep.

Police said the sister told them she had been keeping the secret for approximately two months but “knows [Isabella] is dead because she was there” and was forced to help Lehua move Isabella’s body from the bathroom to her bedroom.

Citing comments by the sister, investigators have said they believe Isaac faked contracting COVID-19 to get out of work so the Kaluas could get rid of Isabella’s body. Police say he took approximately two weeks off from work, beginning on Aug. 20 and even went to the hospital to seek treatment.

The torturous abuse of Isabella at the hands of her parents happened regularly, the sister told investigators. She said she’d seen Lehua “put duct tape” on her little sister “plenty of times” and said Isaac was well aware of the tactic, the police indicated.

A judge on Friday ruled that the Kaluas are to remain in pretrial detention without bond. Prosecutors argued that the couple posed a flight risk.

[image via Honolulu PD]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.