Isabella Kalua has been missing for almost two years and her adoptive parents have been charged with murder.

A probate court judge on Thursday formally declared the death of 6-year-old Isabella Kalua, opening the door to a civil lawsuit that could recover damages for her three surviving siblings.

The Waimanalo girl, whose birth name was Ariel Sellers, was presumed dead after her adoptive parents Lehua and Isaac Kalua reported her missing in 2021.

The Kaluas have since been charged with her murder. Prosecutors alleged that the Kaluas confined Isabella in a dog cage, put duct tape over her mouth and failed to feed her. The Kaluas pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

Isaac and Lehua Kalua
Isaac and Lehua Kalua were charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of their adoptive daughter Isabella. (Honolulu Police Department/2021)

But the girl’s body has never been found.

A state judge appointed Nicole Cummings to be a guardian ad litem for Isabella and her siblings and to pursue possible litigation on their behalf.

According to the statute of limitations, any civil lawsuit would have to be filed within two years of the last date Isabella was known to be alive, which the court determined was on or around Aug. 18, 2021. That couldn’t happen until the girl was officially pronounced dead.

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