Family of ‘Peter Boy’ sues state, claiming negligence played a role in his death

Updated: Jan. 10, 2018 at 5:30 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The family of "Peter Boy" Kema, the 6-year-old who died at the hands of his abusive parents in 1997 but whose killing would remain unconfirmed for 20 years, has sued the state, saying Child Protective Services workers and the system didn't do enough to protect him.

The suit also names Peter Boy's parents.

The lawsuit says the state Department of Human Services and Child Protective Services returned Peter Boy to his parents, who had a history of abuse, and failed to intervene when presented with evidence that Peter Boy was being abused again.

Last year, Peter Boy's parents finally admitted that their abuse and neglect led to his death in 1997.

Peter and Jaylin Kema pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

In July, Peter Kema was sentenced to 20 years behind bars as part of a plea deal.

Several months earlier, Jaylin Kema was sentenced to one year.

Investigators said Peter Boy's death was slow and painful, the result of a wound on his arm that festered and became gangrenous. Instead of taking him to the doctor, his parents locked him in a room. The wound smelled of rotting flesh and the other kids in the house called it the "stink room."

Peter Boy died in the summer of 1997, and still the Kemas refused to call for help. Instead, they burned and then disposed of the 6-year-old's body themselves.

The state "had knowledge and information concerning the ongoing physical abuse of Peter Boy by his parents and the risk that he could sustain additional substantial injuries and even death if he remained in the Kema household," the lawsuit says.

"Despite this knowledge ... (the state) returned Peter Boy this parents' household, supported reunification of the Kema family, and supported the termination and closure of the protective proceedings and parental supervision."

This story will be updated.

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