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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, December 13, 2002

Classmates search for answers

Search for girl continues
Family struggles to fathom situation
Child abductions rare in Hawai'i
Pu'uwai Momi residents united in fear, hope and dread

By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Education Writer

Kaehalani Indreginal's 11-year-old cousin, Tiffany Aiu, had a flier of her missing cousin on a binder yesterday when she got off the school bus that dropped her off at the Pu'uwai Momi housing project.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

At the same time Kahealani Indreginal's classmates at 'Aiea Elementary hope for the return of their friend, they're trying to answer an important question: Did they see anything?

Principal Arthur Kaneshiro said that along with explaining the disappearance of the sixth-grader to other children, teachers for the past two days have been giving students safety tips, while police have asked them for information that might provide some leads in the case.

Children are being told to ride the bus instead of walking. Teachers are warning them to travel straight to and from school without stopping anywhere else. And counselors yesterday went into every classroom to tell students about what happened, answer questions and deal with the fears and confusion that can happen when a child goes missing.

"We tell them to differentiate between gossip and facts. Be careful not to enlarge the stories they're hearing," Kaneshiro said.

"If they do think they have information that would help the investigation, please let us know."

Kahealani, 11, was last seen at 3 p.m. Tuesday when she went to a manapua truck and returned to the Pu'uwai Momi housing complex with a friend. No one knows what happened after that.

'Aiea Elementary sent an e-mail to Department of Education districts across the state with a description of Kahealani and information about her disappearance. Kaneshiro hopes to get a letter out to parents soon that would include information on the case and how they can help keep their own children safe.

Suzanne Naval, Kahealani's classroom teacher, said she learned about the disappearance after Kahealani's mother came to the classroom Wednesday morning looking for her.

"She must have been checking everywhere," Naval said. "She thought there was some way she had made it to school."

Kaneshiro and a counselor visited the family yesterday. The school will stay in contact with investigators and help any way it can, he said.

"I saw yesterday that there were fliers being passed around in the community," Kaneshiro said. "Some of the children from our school have been running off additional copies to pass out. People want to help."

Reach Jennifer Hiller at jhiller@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8084.