Detectives have found the spear that was taken from King Kamehameha's statue on Hawaii's Big Island.

The top section of the spear held by a statue of the Hawaiian warrior was reported missing Sunday. Detectives returned to the scene to continue investigating Tuesday when they found the missing spear section in overgrowth on the banks of a channel behind the statue.

The spear was forcibly removed from the lower staff section, police said. Lt. Gregory Esteban declined to reveal how it was removed: "That's something only the suspect or suspects would have knowledge of."

Police will examine the spear segment for forensic evidence and then return it to a Kamehameha Schools alumni group, which owns the statue, Esteban said.

Kamehameha I, also called Kamehameha the Great, is known for uniting the Hawaiian islands in 1810. The statue in downtown Hilo near Wailoa State Park is one of several bearing his likeness, including in downtown Honolulu and in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

According to a local historian, the statue was originally installed on Kauai, but Big Island officials arranged to move it to the island where Kamehameha was born, Esteban said. This is the most notable incident to happen to the statue since it was dedicated in 1997, he said.

On Kamehameha Day, celebrated June 11, his statues are ceremoniously draped with lei.