When a man spotted a 15-year-old girl working on her tan on a Hawaiian beach, he made the big mistake of kidnapping her and trying to flee. That’s when an Amber Alert went and a few strangers became “heroes who ripped her away.”
When 15-year-old Mikella Debina set off for a day at the beach with her boyfriend, she wasn’t aware of the danger that lurked on those sandy shores. According to reports, Duncan Kealoha Mahi, 52, allegedly approached the couple at around 1:30 in the afternoon while they were at Anaeho’omalu Bay Beach on the main island of Hawaii.
Mahi reportedly forced Debina at knifepoint to tie up and blindfold her boyfriend so that he could abduct her without the boyfriend’s interference. After the two disappeared, law enforcement groups immediately began a manhunt to find Mahi and Debina. In fact, the state issued its first-ever Amber Alert to help find the missing teen, The Blaze reported.
That Amber Alert proved to be instrumental in bringing the kidnapped teen home. According to the victim’s aunt, Laurene Debina, investigators first tracked the teen’s cell phone near the Kona airport some 20 miles away, where they found it abandoned along with the dress the teenager had been wearing and her bag.
Land and air searches by law enforcement continued. However, the teen was rescued after 20 hours when brave bystanders and employees at Hilo’s Cafe Pesto—on the opposite side of the island, about 70 miles from the abduction site—spotted something was wrong with a young woman at the cafe and intervened. The teen’s mother, Cherese “Cher” Angelel, called the restaurant employees and patrons “heroes” who had “ripped [Mikella] from her abductor.”
The teenager’s mother told Fox Honolulu affiliate KHON-TV that her daughter convinced her alleged abductor to take her to get a bite to eat and then attempted to escape. Mahi then allegedly physically tried to restrain Debina, prompting a cafe host to jump in and interfere with the kidnapper.
According to Hawaii News Now, the cafe’s host, identified as Bridge Hartman, said he noticed something was “off” when seeing Debina and Mahi approaching the host’s station twice at the restaurant and start to get in a physical altercation. According to Hartman, the man tried passing Debina off as his daughter.
The cafe employee described the situation. “Even if it wasn’t her, my brain was like, ‘I need to get her,’” Hartman said. “Then I realized it was her,” he stated. “And I yelled out, ‘That’s the girl! That’s the Amber Alert girl!’” Hartman seized his opportunity to grab Debina during a brief moment when Mahi allegedly released his grip, hurrying the victim to the back of the restaurant.
Another witness, a local person known as Artist Dragonfly, also witnessed the altercation. “All of a sudden, I can hear a girl screaming, ‘Help! Help! Leave me alone!’” said the artist. “And then here comes this guy dragging her.” A woman eating at the cafe reported seeing Debina wearing men’s clothes, which she found “strange,” and after the altercation, she helped the girl call her mother.
According to Yahoo News, when Hawaii Police arrived at the scene, Duncan Kealoha Mahi was already gone. Although Mikella Debina appeared shaken up, the teen was “in good health.” However, later that afternoon, cops caught up with Mahi and arrested him on numerous counts, which included allegedly sexually assaulting the victim.
The grand jury indicted the suspect with two counts of kidnapping, two counts of first-degree terroristic threatening, two counts of first-degree robbery, one count of methamphetamine trafficking, one count of sex assault of a minor who is at least 14 years old but younger than 16 years old, one count of first-degree sex assault, and two counts of third-degree sex assault, it was reported.