The Search for Peter Boy, Part 3: The Disappearance

The Search for Peter Boy, Part 3: The Disappearance

PETER BOY'S BROTHER AND TWO SISTERS last saw him alive in June 1997.

Six months later, his parents finally filed a missing persons report.

And that launched a statewide search, which only they knew would lead to nothing but years of frustration and unanswered questions.

In the months and years after Peter Boy was reported missing, the community was on the hunt, holding out hope that the 6-year old could someday be found alive — and returned to his grandparents and siblings.

"One day, he'll call and say, 'Hi pop or hi mom, here I am,'" Peter Boy's grandfather Jimmy Acol said back then.

Bumper stickers were plastered on vehicles all over Hilo. Signs and flyers were handed out.

In 1998, facing mounting pressure from the community, Peter Boy's parents made a bizarre and unconvincing plea for help. Hounded for answers, and publicly vilified as child abusers, they stuck together.

They made up a story that sent Big Island Police to Oahu — and to Aala park, where the Kemas claimed they left Peter Boy with a relative, "Aunty Rose Makuakane."

"Well the last place I left him was in Oahu," Peter Kema Sr. said at the time.

But it was clear, they were the only suspects.

The other children were taken from the Kemas for good, and the rest of the family shut them out.

"They know where he is, (definitely) they know where he is," Peter Boy's grandmother, Yolanda Acol, said as the search for Peter Boy continued.

But the two stuck to their story, staying quiet for almost 20 years.

The bumper stickers faded over time. And Peter Boy's disappearance became one of Hawaii's most notorious unsolved mysteries.

In 2005, state Child Protective Services released thousands of pages of documents on the Kema case. The files detailed the extent of the abuse that the children were subjected to, and highlighted the state's failure to protect them.

And one year later, computer images were released showing what Peter Boy would have looked like as a teenager.

It was then that his siblings — teenagers themselves now — began to speak out, hoping that continued attention could spark new leads.

While the media revisited the story periodically over the next decade, his family — especially his grandparents — thought about him every day.

"Just be patient, just be patient … but how long?" his grandmother, Yolanda Acol, said in one interview.

Acol died in 2008, without the answer she waited so long for.

And she left an important message with her husband, Jimmy. "My wife said before she passed, 'Don't give up.'"


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