MAKAWAO, Maui >> The mother of a pregnant Maui woman whom authorities say was brutally killed hopes the search effort helps prevent people from mysteriously vanishing on the island in the future.
The volunteer organization of Maui Search and Rescue sends a message to attackers that they can’t get away with making people disappear, Carly Scott’s mother, Kimberlyn Scott, said.
"What we have is the ability to prevent this from ever happening again in this way, and that’s pretty important," said Scott, 50, of Haiku, Hawaii.
Carly "Charli" Scott went missing in February. Her former boyfriend Steven Capobianco has been indicted on charges of killing her in an especially heinous way, though authorities have not said how they believe Capobianco killed Scott. He pleaded not guilty this week.
Kimberlyn Scott said she and other relatives believe Capobianco killed Scott.
Scott’s disappearance prompted family and friends to start searching, but they had no formal team to work with on a large-scale search. That’s how Maui Search and Rescue was eventually born.
"There were a bunch of isolated groups, some retired military guys with dog-handling experience and search-and-rescue experience, that came together to help assist with the search," said Maui Search and Rescue co-founder Jeff Simon, who began searching on a smaller scale with coworkers at ELCCO Inc., an electrical contractor in Kahului where Scott’s stepfather also worked.
The hundreds of volunteers searched 117 square miles in two weeks, splitting up in groups of four to search one-mile areas, Simon said. A break in Scott’s case came when her 16-year-old half-sister found a bloody shirt, skirt and bra in a dense jungle area nearly 18 miles from where Scott’s burned-out car was found.
Kimberlyn Scott said the search was more extensive than what police would have been able to do on their own.
"They would not be where they are right now in this case were it not for volunteers, and that’s the community that went out and found what they found," she said.
Since forming the nonprofit, Maui Search and Rescue has become certified, members have been trained and the group has received more calls to help others, Simon said.
Kimberlyn Scott said she believes the response in Maui highlights how other communities should prepare and react in similar situations. She has heard from other mothers whose children have gone missing, and she plans to help spur action in their cases, Scott said.
"It’s a pretty sad club to be a member of, it really is," she said. "But they reach out, and there’s a long list of missing people that are from communities all over the United States."