Maui police are working to build a Search & Rescue program that would work on missing persons investigations in Maui County.
The information was shared as Maui Now inquired about five separate missing persons cases involving adult men in the East Maui area recently. The cases were reported over a span of 10 months, and the list of missing includes both residents and visitors ranging in age from 40-61.
Assistant Chief Gregg Okamoto with the Maui Police Department said none of the cases are linked, and there is no suspicion of foul play involved. He said each case is being actively investigated separately as there is no indication that they are related.
“Currently Detectives are assigned to these cases and work with the department’s Special Response Team to follow leads to the end,” said AC Okamoto in an email communication with Maui Now on Nov. 18.
He noted that a cold case refers to homicides that are unsolved. “A missing person case would be reclassified only if there is evidence of a criminal act. So far none of these cases have any evidence of foul play. A missing person case will stay open until there is resolution similar to a cold case,” said AC Okamoto.
When asked about trends involving missing persons cases, police shared information on past experience and precautions that can be taken to keep family and friends informed.
“There was a drop in our visitor numbers due to COVID, but now that everything has opened up again the amount of visitors to our island has increased. With that we suggest all visitors take precautions when traveling to places they are unfamiliar with. Always let someone not in your party know where you are going to be, and make sure you consult with someone with local knowledge in regards to taking safety precautions,” said AC Okamoto.
In many cases, a missing person is reported multiple days after they were last seen, according to police. “Some of this can be attributed to the missing persons not keeping in regular contact with family or loved ones, or wanting to get off the grid and not be found for various reasons,” AC Okamoto said.
If the public has any information on any missing persons case, they are asked to call police at 808-244-6400 or 911 in an emergency. “Do not sit on any information that may possibly be relevant or helpful,” police said.
Below is a list of cases referenced above involving missing persons in East Maui:
Missing person: Haʻikū man last known to be in Hāna, Nov. 5: The Maui Police Department is asking for the public’s help with any information on the whereabouts of William Kupstas, 58, of Haʻikū. He was reported missing on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, by family members whose last phone contact with him was in the afternoon of Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, when he was reportedly in the Hāna area. Police say Kupstas was on foot but is known to utilize MEO bus transportation. Kupstas is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighs about 185 pounds, and has blond hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a blue shirt, dark-colored shorts, and a black baseball cap in the morning on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the Maui Police Department’s non-emergency number at 808-244-6400. If it’s an emergency, dial 911 and refer to MPD report #22-036472.
Missing: Man last seen in Hāna, Maui on Sept. 6: The Maui Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance in locating Brandon Romero, 40, who was reported missing on Oct. 17, 2022. Police say he was last heard from on Sept. 5, 2022, and last seen in Hāna on Sept. 6, 2022. Romero does not have a cell phone and communicates using social media, according to police reports. Brandon Romero is described as 5 feet 7 inches tall, and weighs about 150 pounds.
Missing Person: Kauaʻi man last seen in Hāna, Maui on Aug. 30: David Osborn, 56, of Kauaʻi. Osborn was reported missing on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, by his family after failing to arrive home from Maui. Maui police say Osborn was scheduled to depart Maui on Aug. 31, 2022, at about 9 a.m., from the Hāna Airport; and was scheduled to meet a friend at the San Francisco Airport on Aug. 31, 2022, for a connecting flight, but failed to show. Osborn was last seen on Aug. 30, 2022, at approximately 8 p.m. at his vacation rental in Hāna. His personal effects were found in the rental, according to police. A press release issued by the department notes that Osborn was on foot, as he did not rent a vehicle upon his arrival on Maui.
Missing: Visitor fails to return from jog in Kīpahulu, Maui: The Maui Police Department is requesting the public’s assistance with any information on the whereabouts of Thomas Lockhart, 61, of California. Lockhart was reported missing by his family on the afternoon on Monday, May 2, 2022, after he failed to return from a jog. Lockhart was last seen at a Kīpahulu Valley farm, where he is staying, on Sunday, May 1, 2022, at approximately 6:30 a.m. Police say the man was reportedly going jogging in the Pīpīwai Trails area located within Haleakalā National Park. Lockhart is described as 6-foot-1, weighs about 165 pounds, and has grey hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing blue shorts, an unknown-colored shirt, and running shoes.
Missing Person: Edward “Kimo” Wendt Jr.: The Maui Police Department is requesting the public’s assistance with any information on the whereabouts of Edward “Kimo” Wendt Jr. Wendt, 54, was reported missing on the evening of Sunday, March 6, 2022, by his family after his belongings were found within the Wailua Valley, near the area of the scenic lookout. He was last seen by family in the Wailua area of East Maui on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, with the intent to make a homestead and live off of the land, according to Maui police. Wendt is described as 6 feet tall, weighs about 250 pounds, and has gray hair and hazel eyes. It is believed that he does not have access to a vehicle. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Wendt, is asked to contact the Maui Police Department’s non-emergency number at 808-244-6400. If it’s an emergency, dial 911 and refer to MPD report #22-007395.