Authorities are one step closer to finding “Peter Boy” Kema’s body.
Peter Kema Jr. disappeared nearly 20 years ago. He was six years old.
Earlier this month, his father, Peter Kema Sr., pleaded guilty to manslaughter and hindering prosecution, and agreed to lead authorities to his body.
We’ve now learned that over the weekend, Kema led police and county prosecutor Mitch Roth to an area in the Puna district of Hawaii Island to search for his remains.
It started on Sunday at around 10:30 a.m. Kema was accompanied by his attorney, Stanton Oshiro.
Deputy prosecutor Ricky Roy Damerville wouldn’t disclose the exact search location because, he says, the investigation is ongoing. But he did tell us investigators have not yet found any remains.
He noted that Kema is being very cooperative with police.
As for why it took so long for the search to begin, Damerville explained, “any delay in getting this done has been scheduling the defense attorney. He is a very busy and popular guy. First opportunity we had was Sunday.”
Police are now consulting with experts to figure out the next step. Damerville says the case has caught nationwide attention, and all options to find Peter Boy are being looked at thanks to expert help from different law enforcement and agencies.
“A number of agencies from around the country have volunteered their services to assist in any way they can. We are very appreciative of offered services,” he said. “People who have, for instance, different types of radars that can search the ground, different types of divers if you need divers. All kinds of groups volunteered their services.”
Even with assistance, Dr. Kanthi De Alwis, a forensic pathologist and former Honolulu medical examiner, says finding Peter Boy’s remains will be a challenge.
She says there’s a chance they may never be recovered “because if it is a shallow grave, as we know the Big Island has a lot of rain, and there’s a very high possibility that the bones could be scattered, and it also depends on animal activity soon after the burial. … If that’s the case, then they’ll have to really go through a larger radius looking for any scattered bones, if they’re still there.”
If they do recover bones, De Alwis says the next step would be to identify them as belonging to Peter Boy, possibly using mitochondrial DNA “that could be extracted from bones, and those are usually matched with the mother or maternal relatives.”
De Alwis was hired by the county as the forensic pathologist in the case, and was on the witness list ready to testify had it gone to trial.
“Having analyzed the case, Peter Boy died of an infection and sepsis that originated from a wound on his arm that was not treated, but we didn’t know whether that wound was inflicted or an accidental wound,” she said.
De Alwis says if authorities find that particular bone, they may be able to figure out the answer to that.
Whether or not they’re able to find out more answers about the circumstances of Peter Boy’s death remains to be seen, but what it would provide is closure in this 20-year-old case.
“For some, there’s never any closure. We’re doing everything that we can, and we’ll see,” said Damerville.
As for Peter Boy’s mother, Jaylin Kema pleaded guilty to manslaughter in December as part of a deal with prosecutors, and would have had to testify against her husband.
As part of the agreement, she’s scheduled to be released from jail on Thursday, meaning she would have served a year behind bars for the death of her son.