Family visits area where Kema says he left ‘Peter Boy’

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Family members of Peter Kema Jr. were escorted Wednesday morning to the Puna site where Peter Kema Sr. said he left the body of his son, also known as “Peter Boy,” in 1997.

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Family members of Peter Kema Jr. were escorted Wednesday morning to the Puna site where Peter Kema Sr. said he left the body of his son, also known as “Peter Boy,” in 1997.

County Prosecutor Mitch Roth said he, staff and police accompanied two of Peter Boy’s siblings, Lina Acol and Allan Acol; his maternal grandfather, James Acol Sr.; and maternal aunt, Neivbea Zane, to the general area Kema Sr. told police he had taken the boy’s body after he died.

“When we were driving out there, it started to rain really hard. … It became sunny when we got out there,” Roth said. “At least a couple of us — we were in two different cars — had a conversation about these were tears from heaven. The aunty said they were tears of joy from Peter Boy. … The grandfather, Mr. James Acol, said a prayer to his deceased wife, Yolanda, and (said), ‘We found him, honey. He’s in your hands.’”

Roth said tears were shed by Peter Boy’s family, as well. He added that none of them appeared familiar with the location they visited, which Roth described as “a very beautiful area.”

“I think that’s something that the family realized as well,” he said. “… One of our victim-witness counselors, Deborah Chai, gave them some very small glass vials with a cork and family members took some soil from the location as keepsakes.”

The boy’s remains have not been found, and Roth and police Capt. Randall Medeiros of Hilo Criminal Investigation Division, one of the original investigators on the case, said the scope of the search will require the assistance of an outside team with specialized expertise and equipment.

Medeiros said Kema directed police to the scene Sunday. He described Kema as “cooperative.”

“He was short and to the point, but he answered the questions we put to him,” Medeiros said. “He wasn’t volunteering a whole lot of information. He was answering questions that were … relative to the disposal of Peter Boy’s body.”

Medeiros said Kema’s court-appointed attorney, Stanton Oshiro, was present and Kema “consulted with his lawyer once or twice during the interview.”

Kema pleaded guilty to manslaughter and first-degree hindering prosecution in the death of his son. His deal with prosecutors requires him to lead them to where he left his son’s body. If no remains are found, he will have to take a polygraph test to determine his truthfulness. If remains are found or the polygraph indicates he is truthful, Kema will serve a maximum 20-year prison term. If he is deemed uncooperative, he faces an additional five years in prison when he is sentenced June 8.

Kema and his wife, Jaylin, lied to authorities for almost two decades, saying they took the chronically abused and missing boy to Oahu and left him with an “Aunty Rose Makuakane.”

Jaylin Kema also pleaded guilty to manslaughter and told authorities her son died because of abuse from Peter Kema Sr. and because the couple didn’t seek medical attention for a festering arm wound suffered by Peter Boy. She is set to be released from jail today after serving a year behind bars and is facing a 10-year probation term when she is sentenced May 30.

Roth and Medeiros expressed optimism that remains of the boy, who was 6 when he died in 1997, will be found.

“It’s been 20 years, but … I’m a man of faith,” Roth said. “I know it’s a long shot, but I still have faith that we are still going to find some remains out there.”

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“I’m very hopeful. Anything we can do to help the family find closure,” Medeiros added. “And I’ve always felt Peter Boy deserves a final resting place, sent to rest in peace by people who love him. Anything we can do in that pursuit, we are going to do.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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