Missing Yoga Instructor's Family Shuts Down Speculation Her Boyfriend Is Involved in Disappearance
The missing woman's family spokesperson says Benjamin Konkol "was at work" when Amanda Eller vanished during a hike
As the desperate search for missing yoga instructor Amanda Eller continues, her family is shutting down speculation that her boyfriend Benjamin Konkol may have played a part in her disappearance.
“So far there’s been absolutely zero indication of any foul play or involvement on his part — or anybody’s part for that matter,” Amanda’s dad John Eller tells PEOPLE.
Amanda, 35, mysteriously vanished from the Makawao Forest Reserve in Maui during a routine hike on May 8.
Konkol was the last to see her alive.
“I was the last person to see her and it was Wednesday morning before I went to work … She really likes to be alone in nature too … so it’s not unlike her to do that,” Konkol said at a Sunday press conference.
Konkol, who John says was among those helping with the search, added, “The moment that she did not arrive home at night I knew something was wrong. It did not feel good in my body.”
The family’s spokesperson Sarah Hynes has also spoken out in defense of Konkol, describing him as a “kind” and “helpful.”
“It pains me to even have to say this. People are asking about her boyfriend since he was the last one to officially see her and of course those closest to her are looked at,” Hynes wrote on Facebook on Saturday.
“The family and Amanda’s friends do not feel that Ben is at all connected,” Hynes continued. “For starters he is a very sweet person and they had a loving relationship. He has been working on my property and I have always known him to be kind, helpful, and of the highest integrity.”
Hynes also explained Konkol “was at work” when Amanda went missing.
Five days after her disappearance, Amanda’s mother Julia Eller received a package with her daughter’s name on it.
Amanda apparently sent a Mother’s Day package to Julia at around 10 a.m. on the day she went missing — a revelation that provided new clues into her vanishing.
The family initially believed Amanda got to the Makawao Forest Reserve around 8 a.m., according Haynes. As it turns out, witnesses reportedly recalled seeing a woman on a hiking trail that morning wasn’t Amanda at all.
“In light of this evidence, her car likely arrived after 10:35 a.m.,” Haynes wrote in a Facebook update on Monday.
“The pet sitter of the parents of Amanda received a package at their home today,” Haynes added. “It was a Mother’s Day package from Amanda. It was filled with beautiful items and a lovely letter which included Amanda’s Love for her family and excitement about her future.”
The post continued: “The package had a print at home label but it was dropped to the Haiku post office, and scanned at the receiving counter at 10:19 AM. This changes our timelines.”
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Amanda, a yoga teacher and physical therapist who lives in Haiku, Maui, was last seen around 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday and was reported missing the next day when she did not return home, Maui police said. The Maui Police Department did not immediately return PEOPLE’s requests for comment.
On the day she was reported missing, police found her white Toyota RAV4 in the parking lot of the reserve around 9:50 a.m., according to the statement.
Hundreds joined the search for the Amanda in the reserve, including helicopters, drones, hundreds of on-foot volunteers and tracking dogs, USA Today reported. Offshoots of the main trail contain steep drops, and the treacherous terrain features creeks, brush and ravines, complicating search efforts.
The Maui Fire Department has suspended its search for Amanda, but said it would assist in police efforts if there is new information, KHON reported. However, family and friends of the woman have continued looking, using a Facebook page titled “Findamanda” to organize search efforts.
“We have boots on the ground and are helping with coordination, pulling in resources and liaising with police and fire,” Amanda’s father tells PEOPLE. “We feel like the Maui community have been incredible in pulling together, especially after Maui fire and rescue exhausted their involvement.”
“The community is engaged and running the search,” he adds. “We have civilians, people with military backgrounds, people with technology backgrounds coordinating the search grids. The civilian community is all pitching in. We have hundreds of people everyday searching, using GPS devices.”
“It’s incredible,” John says.
Both John and Julia, who are based in Maryland, have offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to her safe return, the Associated Press reported.
With more days passing, Haynes says the family can’t help but fear the worst.
“Generally speaking, it’s highly likely she’s lost or injured in this forest and it’s equally as likely that she was intercepted by someone in the parking lot or on her run,” Haynes told The Maui News.
A vigil will be held for Amanda on Tuesday.
The family has also set up a GoFundMe page to fund search efforts.