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Missing mom's friend: 'Something bad' happened

  • Moreira 'Mo' Monsalve was last seen by her ex-boyfriend on January 12
  • Monsalve's family and friends suspect foul play
  • Police have released few details, but they have not named any suspects and are not calling it a criminal case

“This is not something that happens here,” Maui resident Lisa Thompson said Tuesday about the disappearance of her friend and co-worker, Moreira Monsalve.

Monsalve, known as “Mo” to her friends, has been missing for over a week, and while police will not say whether they suspect foul play, the 46-year-old Hawaii mother’s friends and family are becoming increasingly concerned.

“Something bad has happened,” Thompson said. “We just don’t know what.”

According to police, Monsalve was last seen around 10 p.m. on January 12 at her ex-boyfriend’s home in Wailuku. She was reported missing by one of her daughters on January 14 and the car she had been driving was found later that day.

In posts on a Facebook page devoted to the search for Monsalve, her daughter claimed her cell phone was turned on around 5 a.m. on the morning of January 13 and again on the afternoon of January 14, and a GPS signal indicated the phone was in the Wailuku area.

Police have released few details about their investigation. Although a family friend told HLN affiliate KHON that Monsalve’s purse was found in a dumpster in Wailuku on Thursday, police would not confirm that claim.

“The Maui Police Department is investigating this case thoroughly and following every lead,” a police spokesman said in a statement Friday. “At this time, I can’t go into details because the case is still ongoing. We know the family is very concerned and we are working as hard as we can to find her.”

Maui police confirmed that a search was conducted in an area along Waipoli Road in Kula, but they would not say what led them to focus on that rural area.

Police spokesman Lt. William Juan said Tuesday that investigators have no new information to release and Monsalve is still classified as a “missing person.”

“As far as this being a criminal case, I have no idea if it’s going to go that route,” Juan said.

Thompson, however, is certain that something is wrong.

“Mo is my dear friend and she would not just have disappeared,” Thompson said, adding that Monsalve was not suffering from depression or any mental issues that could explain a voluntary disappearance.

“It’s logical that some foul play happened,” she said.

A large-scale search was conducted on Saturday with the assistance of experts and canine teams, Thompson said, and the family is working on organizing another search for the coming weekend.

“The family is of course anxious for answers…It’s very hard not to get impatient and want to know,” Thompson said, although she said the family believes police are doing everything they can to find Monsalve.

“They’re just beside themselves worried,” she said of Monsalve’s three children.

Lt. Juan said Tuesday that police have no suspects in the case and he did not know whether detectives have questioned Monsalve’s ex-boyfriend. HLN’s calls to a phone number listed for the ex-boyfriend were not returned Tuesday.

Anyone with information regarding Moreira Monsalve’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Maui Police Department at 808-244-6400.

Additional information about the family’s search efforts can be found at the “Mowatch” Facebook page here. A vigil is planned for Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Ka'ahumanu Church on High Street in Wailuku.

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