LIHUE, Hawaii (KHON2) — Kauaʻi Police Department said that their multiagency search has been able to recover the body of homicide suspect, Kody Gardner.
According to KPD, his body was located approximately 500 feet below Waimea Canyon Lookout. The body was on a steep, remote cliffside that could only be accessed with proper safety equipment and expert rappelling and rescue/recovery personnel.
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“Kaua’i Search and Rescue’s (KSAR) team, comprised of highly skilled volunteer expert rappel and recovery specialists, risked their lives yesterday to help bring proper closure to the family and friends of the late Delwood Kalei Gardner and Kody Gardner,” said Kaua’i Police Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce.
Ponce added that “we are very thankful and humbled by KSAR’s unwavering commitment in assisting KPD with search and rescue missions, missing persons investigations and coroners case body recovery operations.”
KPD believes that Kody Gardner, 22, is the suspect in the murder of Delwood Kalei Gardner on Feb. 16. Kody Gardner’s body was located on Feb. 23, but it took the search crews eight days to be able to recover it.
As of Feb. 24, Kaua‘i Police Department Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce stated that “due to the ongoing windy, rainy and cloudy weather conditions and remote location, we have not yet been able to recover the body.”
He added that “the safety of our Air-1 pilot, firefighters/rescue personnel, police officers and partnering agencies involved in the recovery attempts is priority; and we will continue our efforts in the near future during favorable weather conditions.”
In small communities, a homicide impacts much of the residents.
“Our hearts go out to the family, loved ones and all affected by this tragedy,” said Ponce. “We thank all our partners involved in this multiagency search and the public for your patience and support.”
According to KPD, the partners who worked together to locate Kody Gardner’s body included personnel with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Kaua‘i Fire Department, Kaua’i Search and Rescue (KSAR), friends and family of the decedent, members of the Kaua’i Police Department and other volunteers.
The search crew also included Air-1, drones and canines skilled in search and rescue.
KPD said that early in the morning on Feb. 16 a homicide occurred in Lāwa‘i in which Delwood Kalei Gardner of Kahili Mountain is believed to have been murdered by Kody Gardner. They believe that Kody fled the scene in a stolen vehicle which was finally located at Waimea Canyon Lookout.
According to KPD, “an autopsy conducted on Thursday, Feb. 23, confirmed that the victim’s death occurred as a result of a homicide caused by multiple penetrating sharp force injuries to the neck.”
The case continues to be under investigation.
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“We do not know of or have a specific motive why Kody Gardner would want to harm his father, Delwood Kalei Gardner,” said Ponce. “However, according to family members, Kody Gardner suffered from mental illness”.