The Search for Peter Boy, Part 8: The Family’s Closure

The Search for Peter Boy, Part 8: The Family's Closure
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

AT HER JUNE 13 sentencing hearing, Jaylin Kema broke down.

"I have caused my children to live in the nightmare and I have denied them the healthy childhood and I am so very sorry," she said, in a tearful apology. "I know I deserve the punishment of imprisonment. For far too long, I kept a secret of the abuse of my children, especially Peter Boy."

Her emotional confession helped her avoid more prison time in the death of her 6-year-old son in 1997.

But was the apology 20 years later — or 20 years too late?

There was no doubt that Lina Acol would never forgive her father, Peter Kema, Sr.

But there was a time when she thought she could reconcile with her mother. She even let her be a grandmother to her son, Luke, who Jaylin Kema met secretly after her arrest for welfare fraud.

That all changed after she learned more about her mother's role in Peter Boy's death.

"I know that I said maybe it could happen, maybe she could be a part of Luke's life," Acol said. "But after learning more, I don't want that near him. At all. I don't want nothing to do with her."

Brother Allan Acol feels the same way. "I'm still good with not talking to her right now," he said.

Even Jaylin Kema's own father, Jimmy Acol, said forgiving her "is going to be hard, very hard."

In court, Kema admitted that she didn't seek help for Peter Boy as he was slowly dying of an infection. She then helped her husband cover up the crime.

"Parents are the ones that are supposed to love you, not treat you like a dog," said Lina Acol.

Acol was born with "Kema" as her last name, but she later changed it — severing ties to her parents. Her grandparents, Jimmy and Yolanda Acol, raised her after Peter Boy disappeared, and she refers to them as her parents.

"As far as I know, my dad's sitting right next to me," she said, motioning to her grandfather, "and my mom is buried in Hololo cemetery."

As for her real parents, "I'll never forgive them," she said.

Oldest sister Chauntelle Acol now lives in Florida with a son of her own.

She said closure means they can find comfort in their faith. That Peter Boy — who she always, affectionately called "Pepe" — is with his grandma again.

"At least we get closure that Pepe is never going to come home again, but he's been in heaven," Acol said. "I know that Pepe greeted her in heaven and you know that makes me proud, makes me know that he's OK."

Jaylin Kema was sentenced to a year behind bars, which she'd already served when she faced a judge in June. Her husband, Peter, avoided a life sentence with his plea agreement.

But the family says the plea deals were worth it — to get closure, to see their grandfather finally fulfill his promise to his dying wife.

"I know Yolanda is happy now," said Jimmy Acol. "She's in a different place with him and they're looking at me and saying, 'Papa you did good.'"

Solving the Peter Boy mystery has clearly not washed away the grief over his death, the resentment toward his parents, or the belief that others should be held accountable.

But his family is moving forward.

They will finally hold a memorial service for him in Kona. It's something they've discussed before, but that small bit of hope that Peter Boy might still be alive kept them from accepting the terrible truth.

Now that they know, however painful, they are ready to say goodbye.

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