For a community that never got to mourn, Peter Boy plea means cl - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

For a community that never got to mourn, Peter Boy plea means closure

(Image: Family) (Image: Family)
(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Image: Hawaii News Now)
HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) -

It was the case that gripped the state. And the one that would haunt it for far too long.

Now, 20 years after little "Peter Boy" Kema went missing, his family — and the state — are close to finally getting answers.

In a Hilo courtroom on Wednesday, Peter Boy's father pleaded guilty to manslaughter in his son's death.

Peter Boy was 6 years old when he went missing. His body was never found. And under the plea deal reached with prosecutors, Peter Kema Sr. will have to tell investigators where his son's remains are or pass a polygraph test if the remains can't be recovered.

After the guilty plea Wednesday, Big Island residents struggled to find the right words — to express their sadness and to express their relief. To come to terms with the prospect of finally knowing after wondering for so many years.

"I was 10 years old when it happened," said Adam Langsner, of Kapoho. "My parents would sit down every day to dinner and talk to us about the Peter Boy case."

He added, "It's been haunting the entire island community for so long but I feel like everybody in the state is just waiting for that closure. What really happened to Peter?"

Big Island Mayor Harry Kim said the whole case — everything — it's like a "bad nightmare."

With the guilty plea, "there is closure and sentencing, and all those kinds of things," he said. "I think we all know nothing is going to take away the sadness of it. Nothing is going to take away feelings of what did happen."

Resident Lisa White had this to say about Kema's guilty plea: "Praise the lord! He finally admits to what he's done."

Dolores Verbanic, of Hilo, meanwhile, simply expressed disbelief. 

How could he sleep at night, she asked, knowing what he'd done? 

"He's getting off, I would say, quite easy for whatever he did to that boy," Verbanic said. "To see the boy's picture is really sad. It breaks my heart."

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