Drones and canine units are key tools in the search for Isabella Kalua’s remains


HONOLULU (KHON2) – Experts say drones, soil samples and canine units are all important tools in finding the remains of six-year-old Isabella Kalua.

They say finding her remains will provide key evidence and bring comfort to her loved ones. If it is a large search area, a combination of different strategies will be used.

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“I’m just thinking of a ground search – a ground investigation you might call – combined with drones and detector dogs. I really think it’s the best that can be done, ”said David Carter, professor of forensic science at Chaminade University.

Dogs are trained to react to the smell of decay, while drones can be fitted with thermal cameras to detect heat underground.

“If a body has been buried, it slows down decomposition until a rise in temperature actually lasts a little longer,” Carter said.

Experts say investigators will also examine the suspects’ cellphone tapes. The GPS in the phones will determine where the suspects have been in the past few months, and this will aid in the search. Even small things like soil samples found around the house can help, as some areas have a specific soil type.

“We know sandy soils, we know red soils, and we have different types of dirt and fertilizer. So he’s a type of forensic person who would test and figure out where that soil came from, ”said Sheryl Sunia, chair of the criminal justice program at the University of the Pacific in Hawaii.

Sunia says cell phones and computers will also provide clues and records of websites the suspects have visited and any social media activity.

“If there were any social media posts, you go back and something is wrong with that post. Look at the date of the post, it’s not going away. What you do on your computer doesn’t go away. So all of these things are really important, ”Sunia said.

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She adds that with the suspects now arrested, there is also a tendency for those with information to be more willing to come forward.

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