Thursday, February 12, 2004


Police suspect family
stole boy from state care

He was taken from a state
van by four people who allegedly
demanded the child

Honolulu police believe family members of a 9-year-old boy seized him from state workers after he was placed in the care of Child Protective Services last week.

Police said Calvin Sabanal was taken from the Ewa Child and Family Services parking lot on Fort Weaver Road about 10:20 a.m. last Thursday as he was being transported by a CPS assistant in a state van. Police said the assistant was approached by four adults in a red pickup truck, three of whom allegedly got out and demanded the child.

"They were pounding on the van to let the kid out," said Detective Erik Iinuma. "There was no damage to the van; it seemed more to scare the driver."

Police said one person grabbed Calvin from the front seat of the van and fled in the truck, which was later found abandoned. The driver locked the van door, Iinuma said, but the boy may have unlocked it from the inside.

Police tentatively identified those in the pickup as family members of Calvin's family, including his father, Barry Sabanal. Police said Sabanal is wanted for an outstanding traffic warrant as well as for questioning in this case.

Sources said police took the child Feb. 4 and turned him over to CPS because of a drug problem in the Sabanal household.

CPS officials would not comment on the case because of confidentiality laws. In general, they said, encounters between parents and state workers happen frequently.

"Sometimes it's an unscheduled visit; sometimes they write a letter or have a disagreement in court," said Derek Dahilig, public affairs officer for the Department of Human Services, which oversees CPS. "I don't know if you could call them confrontations, but there are disagreements between parents and CPS workers ... a lot."

Even so, police said this sort of incident is rare.

"This is the first time I've ever had any experience where they run up to the car and grab the kid back," said Iinuma. "Usually it's a visitation issue where they fail to bring the child back to the parent who has custody."

Police are asking for the public's help in finding Calvin. He is described as 4 feet 1 inch tall, weighing about 50 pounds, with a slim build, short dark brown hair, brown eyes and a silver cap on a bottom middle tooth.

Barry Sabanal, 42, is described as 5 feet 2 inches tall, weighing about 120 pounds, with a small build, brown hair and brown eyes.

Witnesses may call Detective Iinuma at 529-3099 or Missing Child Center-Hawaii at 753-9797. Anonymous calls may also be made to CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or by dialing *CRIME on a cellular phone.


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