Isle friends ofHAWAII friends and family of a former Hawaii girl who disappeared while going to school more than a year ago say they were devastated to learn that skeletal remains found in the Santa Cruz mountains were positively identified Saturday as hers.
victim are saddened
by proof of death
DNA tests shows that skeletal
remains are those of 7-year-old
By Leila Fujimori
"We always hoped she was alive, but we didn't have anything specific to pin it on," said Kai Matheisen, godmother to 7-year-old Xiana La-Shay Kapuali'i Fairchild.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff's department announced Saturday that the results of DNA tests on a skull found by a construction worker belonged to Fairchild.
She had been missing since Dec. 9, 1999, while on her way to a Vallejo, Calif., school bus stop.
Hundreds of volunteers searched for the girl, including hanai great-uncle Sisto Domingo from Hawaii.
The news did not bring closure for Domingo. "It doesn't make it better for me," Domingo said. "We know that she suffered, and we're not going to stop until we find out what happened to her."
Domingo, a cameraman for KHNL NBC Hawaii News 8, also helped launch a campaign to bring national attention to her disappearance. Xiana's story ran on television's "America's Most Wanted" and "Leeza" and her face appeared on billboards along California highways.
Matheisen said she wants people to know what a special little girl Xiana was.
"She started with the deck stacked against her being born to a woman in prison," Matheisen said. But she turned out to be smart and "everything you want in a child."
Domingo, who lived in the same Oahu household as Xiana when she lived here, would take her the beach and movies, two of her favorite things.
He said many others took an extraordinary interest in Xiana. Even teachers from school would ask to take her out for the day.
"She was such a beautiful little girl, and she picked things up quickly," he said. "You can imagine what kind of woman she would have been ... a beautiful successful young lady."
Domingo's sister Stephanie Kahalekulu and their mother, Lita Domingo, raised Xiana until she was turned over to her biological mother, Antoinette Robinson, and her boyfriend, Robert Turnbough, in Vallejo in June 1999, six months before she disappeared.
Domingo said family in California will have a memorial service as soon as they can find a hall large enough to accommodate everyone. He said the family here will also hold a service in Hawaii, but have not decided when.
Family friend Kenny Green said his wife, Melinda, took the news pretty hard when they received the call Saturday morning. "She (Melinda) knows what a loss it was as a mom," Green said.
The couple immediately called their pastor at Calvary Chapel, where Xiana once attended, and he reassured them with Bible verses and prayed with them.
"At least we know she's with the Lord now and she's not in any kind of pain now."
Green hopes that what happened to Xiana would make people aware of what can happen.
"Don't let your kids walk alone to school," he said. "Protect them. Take them to school and pick them up."