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Hilo Information Update for December 21st, 2019

Search continues for missing toddler Benjamin (Benny) Rapoza continues.


Numerous community members including a few members from the HIRSC team has joined in the search for the 6-year-old who was last seen Friday afternoon (December 20th).

The Hawaii Police Department (HPD) and the Hawaii Fire Department (HFD) are currently conducting a search for a missing toddler Benjamin (Benny) Rapoza in the Keaukaha area, who was last seen Friday Afternoon (December 20th).


The initial call came at 5:34 pm Friday evening and HPD officers from South Hilo Patrol and HFD crews from the Waiakea and Central Fire Stations along with Battalion 1 responded to Keaukaha, where they conducted ocean, land, and air search through late Friday evening.


HPD is concerned for Rapoza's welfare, as he been diagnosed with Nonverbal Autism and was last seen only wearing a diaper. Rapoza is being described as local, standing about 3-feet tall, weighing about 50 pounds, slim build, with short brown hair, brown eyes, and a fair complexion.


At first light, Saturday morning (December 21st), HFD crews and HPD officers and K-9 Search Dog continued with their search for Rapoza and continued again with the ocean, air, and ground search of the Keaukaha area and surrounding shoreline. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Rangers, United States Coast Guard (USCG), Team Adam from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, HPD Criminal Investigative Division (CID) officers from both Area I and II have since joined efforts as well.


Many community members including family members and few members of the HIRSC team have also joined in the search and are continuing to search throughout the Keaukaha community including the shorelines/beaches and ponds surrounding Keaukaha are being searched thoroughly. HIRSC team members in Keaukaha report that although it has been raining on and off on Saturday, that has not stopped anyone involved in the search efforts, as no stone is being left unturned and will continue rain or shine.


Also, rough ocean conditions with approximately 7 to 10-foot swells have also been reported and High Surf Advisory remains in effect through Sunday, December 22nd. HFD crews along with Ocean Safety Jet Ski team are currently conducting an ocean surface search. However, HFD Rescue Divers and Boat had to return to shore due to the rough conditions on the water.


The search is expected to continue through Saturday evening into the early morning hours of Sunday. A couple more HIRSC team members on Hawaii Island will be joining the search tomorrow morning.


If anyone has information on the whereabouts or may have seen Rapoza, you are asked to call HPD's Non-Emergency Line at 808-935-3311 or Detective BJ Sagon at (808) 961-8883 or email bobbie-jo.sagon@hawaiicounty.gov.

Update from HPD (as of 5:00 pm Saturday evening):

Hawaiʻi Police Department Area I Juvenile Aid Section Lieutenant Sandor Finkey Phone: 961-2254 Report no. 19-100172


Hawaiʻi Island police continue to ask for the public’s assistance and continue to search for a missing 6-year-old Hilo boy. 


A multi-agency search effort has yielded minimal results during an extensive search for Benjamin Rapoza, who was last seen at a residence in the 2100 block of Kalanianaole Street at around 3:00 pm yesterday (December 20).  Benjamin is described as local, standing about 3-feet tall, weighing about 50 pounds, slim build, with short brown hair, brown eyes, and a fair complexion.  He was last seen wearing only a diaper.


Police are concerned for his welfare as Benjamin is diagnosed with nonverbal autism.

Today’s efforts included personnel and assets from the Hawaiʻi Fire Department, Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, U.S. Coast Guard, “Team Adam” from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, both Area I and II Criminal Investigations Divisions, and South Hilo Patrol. 


Community members and concerned citizens from the Keaukaha and Hilo areas also volunteered to assist in searching for “Benny”. 

Rain and heightened ocean swells hampered portions of the search and posed a navigation hazard to the fire department’s rescue vessel, requiring it return to shore.  Neither the vessel nor the personnel onboard sustained damages or injuries.

“We are truly grateful to the incredible response from the community during the search for Benny.  While we encourage the public’s assistance, we do not want any injuries or mishaps, so please be vigilant of the ocean conditions and do not place your personal safety at risk.” said Captain Greg Esteban, Commander of the Area I Criminal Investigations Division. 

Police continue to ask anyone with information on Benjamin’s whereabouts or may have seen him in the Keaukaha areas to call the Detective BJ Sagon at (808) 961-8883 or email bobbie-jo.sagon@hawaiicounty.gov.


Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.00. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers does not record calls or subscribe to any Caller ID service. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

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