Police have recovered the belongings of a missing woman from a dumpster at Papohaku Park in Wailuku, a family friend said.
Moreira "Mo" Monsalve, 46, who went missing Sunday was not at the scene Thursday afternoon and remains missing. She was last seen around 10 p.m. at her ex-boyfriend's residence in Wailuku, police said.
"It's just items. It's not her," said Monsalve's sister-in-law, Lisa Moniz, on Thursday. "She's a strong woman. She's out there somewhere. I just appreciate what everybody is doing."
Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said that the dumpster, which sits parallel to Waena Street, was cordoned off around 3:30 p.m. and was part of a "police operation." He said he could not say what the operation was but said that a scheduled event was unaffected Thursday evening at the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center.
Police reopened the area about 30 minutes later.
Maui police spokesman Lt. William Juan acknowledged that police were conducting an investigation, but he said details were not being disclosed.
Family and friends of missing Maui woman Moreira Monsalve speak with police who recovered some of Monsalve’s belongings from a dumpster Thursday afternoon at Papohaku Park in Wailuku. Monsalve was last seen Sunday night at her ex-boyfriend’s residence in Wailuku.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
Bystanders said that the belongings recovered inside the dumpster included a Coach purse found by a homeless man.
A longtime friend of Monsalve's, who declined to give her name, said that the man found the purse, which belongs to Monsalve, on Monday but notified police only on Thursday. The friend would not disclose any other details, on the advice of police.
Monsalve, who has children, would not simply go missing without a word to anyone, the friend said.
"She does not go one day without calling her children," she said. "She's a sharp, very responsible woman."
About 20 of Monsalve's co-workers gathered at the park but declined to comment. According to her daughter, Alexis Felicilda, Monsalve is a civilian employee for a government contracting company.
Monsalve attended a meeting with her son Sunday afternoon at the University of Hawaii Maui College, police said. The two left in separate vehicles.
Monsalve then dropped her daughter off at Kahului Airport and, because Monsalve's son slept over at a friend's house Sunday night and Felicilda was on Oahu, it wasn't until Tuesday morning that family members realized Monsalve was missing and called police, Felicilda said.
Felicilda said that Monsalve's ex-boyfriend posted something on Monsalve's Facebook page at about 7 p.m. Sunday indicating that she was at his residence at Iao Parkside. When Felicilda called the ex-boyfriend, he said that Monsalve had left the residence at 10 or 10:30 Sunday night, Felicilda said.
While Monsalve has not been seen or heard from since Sunday, Moniz said that she has not seen her sister-in-law in about a month. However, when asked if she fears the worse, she said "not at all" and remained optimistic.
Monsalve is described as 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs about 170 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information about the missing woman's whereabouts is asked to call police at 244-6400.
* Chris Sugidono can be reached at email@example.com.