Suspicious Incidents in Kīhei Prompt Community Concerns
A Maui family is seeking action and is hoping to spread awareness in the community after they reported what they described as an attempted kidnapping in Kīhei to Maui police on Thursday afternoon. Joella Speelman tells Maui Now that the incident occurred at the parking lot of a base yard in Kīhei off of Halekūʻai Street.
According to Speelman, a woman suspect walked through the parking lot, opened the truck door where her four-year-old son was seated, and reached for him as he was watching a video on his tablet. Speelman said her husband, who was near the boy, intervened and physically fought off the woman who eventually left the property on foot.
Speelman said the suspect was “talking crazy” during the incident and then called the police on her husband. According to Speelman, responding officers implied that they had dealt with the woman before, and did not detain her because she didn’t actually take the child.
Earlier, police told Maui Now that they were unable to confirm what transpired until they look into the report. This afternoon, police updated us saying there was no complaint filed and they had tried to call Speelman’s husband to confirm.
Speelman has since notified us that an officer came back, took a full statement and a report has since been filed for claims of trespassing, unlawful entry into vehicle and harassment.
“I am beyond infuriated, scared for children of our community and so damn grateful that psycho didn’t take my baby,” said Speelman in an online post.
This has prompted questions over what constitutes a kidnapping and if there are laws to protect a child from “attempted” incidents.
According to Hawaiʻi law, a person commits the offense of kidnapping “if the person intentionally or knowingly restrains another person with intent to: (a) Hold that person for ransom or reward; (b) Use that person as a shield or hostage; (c) Facilitate the commission of a felony or flight thereafter; (d) Inflict bodily injury upon that person or subject that person to a sexual offense; (e) Terrorize that person or a third person; (f) Interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function; or (g) Unlawfully obtain the labor or services of that person, regardless of whether related to the collection of a debt.”
Other non-related incidents on Maui in the past involving physical contact and verbal cues have prompted police response with safety reminders, advising the public to report any suspicious activities and be vigilant of their surroundings.
Concerned parents have asked if there are other laws to protect the child and family including: harassment, public endangerment or unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle.
Speelman described the suspect as a Caucasian woman with reddish-brown frizzy hair, standing about 5’3″ tall, weighing 120-130 pounds and wearing a hat and a black back pack. Speelman said she has heard of other incidents reported in recent weeks in involving a suspect with a similar description.
Similar Incident, Similar Suspect Description, Reported on Sunday:
Another resident, Danielle Garcia, tells Maui Now that a similar situation happened to her six-year-old daughter on Sunday at Waipuilani Beach behind the Maui Sunset. In that incident, a woman of a similar description reportedly approached the girl claiming the child was her grandson. Like yesterday’s incident, there was reportedly no physical contact with the child, and no arrest was made. Police have not linked the two incidents.
Garcia tells Maui Now that she was sitting in a beach chair about 10-feet away from her child who was playing in the sand. The woman (who Garcia described as Caucasian, standing about 5’2″ tall with short blondish-reddish hair, a raspy voice and dark skin from over exposure to the sun) then approached Garcia and asked how her day was going, to which Garcia replied, “great.”
After the interaction, Garcia said she could smell marijuana and observed the woman smoking. At that point, she asked the woman to leave due to the smell. According to Garcia, the suspect responded saying, “I’m not going anywhere without my grandson” while pointing to Garcia’s daughter, and then ran towards the child and attempted to grab the girl.
Garcia said she was able to prevent the woman from grabbing her child by shoving her hand in the woman’s face. Garcia said she called police, but according to her account, it took about 30 minutes before help arrived. In the meantime, a man and woman reportedly assisted by standing watch over the suspect who Garcia said was threatening to hurt her. A retired officer who heard what was happening also helped by removing the woman from the immediate area.
When police arrived, Garcia said the responding officer asked if the suspect physically grabbed her child, to which Garcia responded saying, “no.” The officer then removed the woman from the premises, according to Garcia’s account.
Maui police tell Maui Now that officers responded to the incident, but that there was no one around to make a complaint. Garcia disputes that assessment.