Maui police revise Lahaina wildfire death toll to 97; list of unaccounted for drops to 31

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Maui Police Chief John Pelletier provided an update on the progress of the MPD/FBI credible list of individuals who remain unaccounted for, and ongoing identification efforts involving Lahaina wildfire victims. PC: Wendy Osher (9.15.23). The full press conference can be viewed online at our Maui Now Facebook page.

Maui police revised the death toll of the individuals killed in the Aug. 8 wildfire to 97, down from previous reports of 115; and say the number of individuals unaccounted for has also dropped to 31, down from 66 last week.

“For the first time we have a clear picture of what we have,” said Maui Police Chief John Pelletier during an afternoon press conference at the Wailuku Police Station.

Dr. Jeremy Stuelpnagel, MD/Medical Examiner said, “because of the fire, because of the heat, because of the situation of this being a mass disaster, many of them are down to the bones—some are fragmented. Many of them have required secondary and even tertiary recoveries.”

With some remains being documented as DNA profiles by anthropologists, and others recovered as bones or fragments, Dr. Stuelpnagel said they were able to consolidate the list when data from the two matched.

Of the 97 deaths, 96 of them were processed in part through the morgue task force on Maui, and the remaining death was related to the fire and passed away on Oʻahu, according to police. Police say 95 out of the 97 have distinct DNA profiles attached to them.


“You would think it would be straight forward, but people seeking shelter have gone into other people’s homes. They’re in different cars, they’re in different places, they’re in places they’re not supposed to be. So with the help of our FBI agents, leads, and the help of the community, we’ve been able to track down addresses of people and track down where they are, where they should be, or could be,” said Dr. Stuelpnagel.

In cases where remains were commingled, teams have worked to separate out the material to ensure that remains are as whole as possible and that each member is accounted for.

“We’ve had dental experts, a whole team of dentists looking for DNA and dental comparisons. We’re even looking at surgical hardware, pacemakers, pacemaker serial numbers. We’re trying every single modality we have to make sure that we identify these people. It does take a lot of time. This is a mass disaster,” said Dr. Stuelpnagel.

Of the 97 remains, police have positively identified 74 individuals. Of those 74 people, the names of 65 have been released publicly, and nine others have been identified, but their families have not been located and/or notified.

As for the list of unaccounted for individuals, police say the number is important because every single one of them has an MPD missing person report associated with it.


“Because of the MPD reports, yesterday we recovered an additional two individuals,” said Chief Pelletier, attributing the IDs to “actionable, intelligence in a police report.”

Police say that the FBI and the Morgue Investigative Notification Task Force were able to narrow the initial list of 3,200 unaccounted for individuals down to 388 on Aug. 24, then to 385 on Sept. 1, to 66 last week, and 31 today.

The updated list is posted below:

REFERENCE IDFirst NameLast Name
322Ediomede Pavin, aka EddieCastillo
532Jean (Jeanne)Eliason
2526Samuel (aka Sam)Kang
1290Matsuyuki (aka, Matsu)Osato
2478Robert HoweOwens III
1421Alfred (aka, Alfie)Rawlings
1428Justin OliverRecolizado(M)
2173DaleRichter (or Ritcher)
2278Elmer LeeStevens
192Revelina BaybayanTomboc
(M) Indicates and individual is known to be a minor. To view the list online, please visit

The FBI has determined at least 2,779 individuals from the initial list are safe, with the remaining comprised of unsubstantiated as they were lacking a first or last name and/or a credible reporter.

“We’ve cleared out 99%, we’ve been able to mitigate and find them as accounted for,” according to Chief Pelletier.


The FBI and MPD continue to review and vet any new incoming reports of the unaccounted for and plan to release updated lists weekly.

“We’re looking at all the data points we can to make this the best, most concrete investigation and process we have… We have the best experts in the world working on this, which is why, if you think about it, five-and-a-half-weeks later, we’ve identified 74 individuals, we’ve got DNA profiles on 95 individuals, and we are constantly striving to make sure that we do this to the best of our ability,” said Chief Pelletier.

John Byrd, Laboratory Director – Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) said crews have had a fair amount of success from following leads from missing persons reports in which people have identified specific locations where their loved ones could be.

Most of the crew is from O’ahu, where they have been based for decades, according to Byrd, who calls Hawaiʻi home, even though his work for a federal organization.

“We had a lot of teams with dogs and we went through a lot of different types of searches. We’re kind of the final type of search,” said Byrd, calling the effort a fine-toothed approach.

To date the names of two children have been identified publicly, and one child is included on the current list of individuals who are unaccounted for.

Police Chief Pelletier said there have been a number of false rumors that have surfaced over the course of the investigation, attributing some of that to “paid actors—some of them from other governments, as the senator talked about—folks that believe that the Earth is flat and the Holocaust didn’t happen, trying to create disinformation. I think the facts speak for themselves for the very first time of what is the size and scope.”  

“For the very first time we discussed today, we legitimately have a chance to identify every single person we lost and to reunite them with their family. And so in the midst of all of this tragedy, there’s a little ray of hope right there,” said Chief Pelletier. “That really is incredible. That really is amazing.”

How to file a missing persons report

The MPD needs the public’s help in providing information on anyone who is reported unaccounted for and whose name is on this list but knows the person can be accounted for. If you recognize a name on the list above and know the person to be safe or if you have additional information about the person that may help to locate them, call the FBI at 808-566-4300 or visit to provide additional information.

If you believe an individual is still unaccounted for and their name is not included on the credible list of names, contact the MPD at 808-244-6400 or email [email protected] to file a missing persons report.

If you are an immediate family member (parent, sibling, or child) of an individual you believe is still unaccounted for, live on Maui, and want to provide a DNA sample to assist with the identification process, call 808-270-7771.  If you live outside of Maui, contact the FBI at 808-566-4300 or go to to receive instructions on how to provide your DNA in this effort.

“While we recognize the importance of public awareness, we also emphasize the sensitivity and privacy surrounding these cases. Our priority is to protect the rights and dignity of those involved, including the unaccounted-for persons and their families. We request that everyone respect their privacy during this challenging time,” police said in making the announcement.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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