T Nation

Where's Peter Boy?

Wanted T-Nation’s opinion about this case. Six year old Peter Kema Jr. is a missing child in Hawaii. He was repeatedly abused by his parents, sufferering spiral fractures, rib fractures, etc. His three other sibliings were abused too, but not as bad as Peter Boy, who was his parents’ scapegoat. Typical of Hawaiian government, with a bleeding heart mentality, our Child “Protective” Services returned Peter Boy and his siblings to his parents, after repeated abuse and warnings by family members who were afraid he’d be killed.

Now Peter Boy is missing under suspicious circumstances, and CPS, law enforcement and our state have their thumbs up their collective butts and are practically looking the other way, while the family, media and many people are trying to keep Peter Boy’s cause alive.

His siblings witnessed some of the day Peter Boy went missing…still, the parents have had no criminal consequences. The news story is below. Greater detail of the case can be found at: http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/specials/peterboy/peter6.html

honoluluadvertiser.com, 5/01/05

‘IS ANYBODY LISTENING?’

Excerpt from a Department of Human Services team conference report dated April 22, 1998, three months after Peter Boy was reported missing.

? Peter Boy’s brief life of abuse

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Twice in the 15 months before the state closed its case on Peter Boy Kema in October 1995, social workers were warned that it was a potentially dangerous decision.

Newly released papers disclose concerns about Peter Boy’s welfare that were voiced to social workers before his disappearance.

Three years later, state officials conceded that the child might be dead.

Those revelations are contained in confidential documents made public yesterday for the first time by the state Department of Human Services.

Human services director Lillian Koller released 23 pages of an estimated 2,000 pages of confidential documents. Koller said she hopes to make the rest of them public in the coming months in an effort to bring some resolution to a case that has haunted Hawai’i residents for years.

The documents released were not short on emotion. In one, a former foster parent begs a case worker for help.

“Is anybody listening?” she wrote. “Do you understand?”

Peter Boy disappeared in the summer of 1997 amid suspicious circumstances. His father, Peter Kema Sr., claimed to have given him away to a longtime family friend whose existence has never been confirmed by authorities. It was not until January 1998, however, that his mother, Jaylin Kema, filed a missing person’s report with Big Island police.

Peter Boy was only 6 years old at the time, a doe-eyed child with a smile that masked years of child abuse.

Even that young, he was a veteran of social workers and foster care, which is why the two warnings contained in the documents released yesterday stood out with their pleas for help.

Peter Boy and two older, half-siblings were first put in foster care in the summer of 1991 after reports of abuse that included unexplained fractures Peter Boy suffered as an infant.

Social workers and the Family Courts were working with his parents to reunify the family when Peter Boy’s former foster parent wrote to case workers on July 22, 1994. The foster parent, who was not identified yesterday because of overriding privacy laws, said it was too soon to return the child to his parents because his abuser had never “been found or punished.”

“It just seems to me you don’t care who did it, you’re going to forget the past sadly and go on from there,” the former foster parent wrote.

Nonetheless, Peter Boy was returned to his parents that same month.

Attorney’s complaint

Early warnings
“Extensive skeletal damage … caused by twisting of limbs, which was completely unexplained by either parent.”

Child Protective Services report
Sept. 3, 1991

“It is my opinion the children witnessed violent events that created a level of fear.”

Child interview specialist, U.S. Attorney’s Office
Sept. 10, 1998

"In the past, she has seen Peter Boy have to eat ‘puppy ----’ and is made to sit on the floor. Caller questioned aunt … who just shook her head and said, ‘Things are pretty bad in that household.’ "

CPS intake document
June 17, 1997

“I just felt I had to say some-thing on Peter Jr.'s behalf because someday he is going to find out what happened to him and he is going to wonder why no one helped him!!”

Letter writer who called self “a concerned friend of Peter Jr. and foster parent who loves him very much.”
July 22, 1994

A year later, the attorney representing Peter Boy’s maternal grandparents ? James and Yolanda Acol of Kona ? complained that his clients were not being allowed to see the children. By this point, Peter Boy and his half-siblings had all been returned to their parents, but were still being monitored by child welfare authorities.

Attorney Peter Kubota wrote on Aug. 17, 1995, that the Kemas were isolating the children from neutral family observers.

“I have previously communicated to you my concerns that it is dangerous to isolate the children from the few reliable family members to whom the children could possibly report harm,” Kubota wrote to a state social worker whose name was blacked out in yesterday’s released documents. “I sense DHS would like to close this case by simply taking the position that this is only a visitation matter which should be privately resolved between the parties.”

He concluded by telling the state that the Kemas were not able and willing to provide a safe family home.

But two months later, the state officially closed its case, concluding that Peter and Jaylin Kema were ready to care for their children.

A far different assessment was delivered in a document dated April 22, 1998. At that time, Peter Boy was missing, his parents were being questioned by police and the couple’s behavior toward their children was under scrutiny by human services.

The case analysis by a team of case workers, social workers and psychologists said the Kemas were “resistant, angry and uncooperative with the system.”

“As individuals, they deceive each other and show little concern about locating Peter Jr.,” the report stated. “There is a disconcerting possibility that Peter Jr. is dead.”

The couple falls apart under pressure and “can be explosive” toward their children, which now included a younger daughter as well.

That very day, social workers took custody of the Kemas three other children and put them in foster care.

This document is significant because it is the earliest record that human services officials thought Peter Boy might be dead.

Neither Peter nor Jaylin Kema could be reached for comment on the latest developments in the case. Their former landlord, who is also Jaylin Kema’s church pastor, said yesterday that they have moved and she has not seen her in months.

Jaylin Kema’s two older children are living with their birth father on the Mainland. Her youngest child was adopted by the Acols.

Susan Chandler, who was the director of the Department of Human Services when the Kemas entered the system, yesterday said the warning letters were fairly routine. From foster parents to grandparents, concerned parties often express alarm over pending decisions, Chandler said.

“There are many cases where grandparents and foster parents believe the child is at risk and would like to continue caring for the child,” she said. “But in the vast majority of cases, the children do go home and do just fine. The state can’t keep a child from a family just because the grandparents say the child would do better with me.”

Koller, who became director of the agency in 2003 as part of Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration, said she has not been able to evaluate the documents and decisions that they reveal. But she said she is hoping their release will bring “perpetrators to justice who think they are above the law.”

“We will learn lessons to strengthen our child welfare system,” she said. “We need to do that. We cannot have this tragedy be in vain. We have to have some justice and some improvement out of it.”

The release included documents and information previously obtained by The Advertiser, including descriptions of injuries Peter Boy received when he was three months old ? fractures to three ribs, his knees and his left ankle. The fractures in August 1991 prompted a radiologist at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children to classify them as “characteristic of child abuse.”

Treatment plan

Also included in the release yesterday was a March 1992 report from a Big Island psychologist detailing his problems working with the child’s parents, as well as a treatment plan the Kemas agreed to complete in an effort to regain custody of their children.

Opening the files was only made possible when the department approved new administrative rules in December. The change was made so state officials could inform the public when they felt it would be in a child’s best interests to reach a wider audience.

But Koller’s decision had met with strong resistance in recent weeks and included an anonymous death threat she received Friday. She said authorities are investigating.

When social workers currently working in her Hilo office learned their names might be included in the releases, they filed a grievance with their union, which in turn prompted Koller to redact their identities if they were still employed.

And as late as Friday evening, Koller and her staff were holding their breath in anticipation of a temporary restraining order to block the release. When that didn’t happen, the director paid a staffer overtime to get the documents online at 12:01 a.m. yesterday.

Koller said she went online to make sure they were posted and found herself re-reading the pages. When she got to the first of the two warnings, she began to cry.

“This is a horrible tragedy, and we can’t let it pass,” she said.

Koller has already released the full 2,000 pages of human services files to Big Island authorities. Big Island Prosecutor Jay Kimura and detectives with the police department’s Criminal Investigation Section each received their own box of pages.

Kimura said last week that he assigned an investigator to review the files and compare them with documents he already has. He would not comment on how useful they would be to any prosecution.

“The more information we get, the more helpful it is,” Kimura said.

He would not comment on whether his investigators have spoken recently with the Kemas.

“I can’t go into that,” he said. “We know where they are.”

In Kona yesterday, Peter Boy’s maternal grandparents ? James and Yolanda Acol ? welcomed the release of the documents.

“We just want to get this solved so the boy can rest in peace, if he’s not here, or if he’s around, so we can find him,” Yolanda Acol said.

But she noted frustrations she and husband had with social workers years ago when the case was fresher.

“They could have done a lot of things, but it was just like hidden,” she said. “It was just like (they thought) it’s none of my business.”

Yolanda Acol said she will cook a special dinner tonight with Peter Boy in mind. Family members will gather at the table and light a candle.

They’ll say a prayer, too. That’s what they do on his birthday. Today, Peter Boy would be 14.

Advertiser reporter Kevin Dayton contributed to this report. Reach Mike Gordon at mgordon@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8012.

? ? ?

PETER BOY’S BRIEF LIFE OF ABUSE

MAY 1, 1991: Peter Kema Jr., known as “Peter Boy,” is born to Jaylin and Peter Kema Sr.

MAY 8, 1991: Social workers with the state Department of Human Services receive a report that Peter Boy’s two older half siblings had been abused. The children are placed in the care of Jaylin Kema’s parents, Yolanda and James Acol of Kona.

JUNE 1991: The children are returned to their parents under supervision of social workers.

AUG. 12, 1991: Social workers receive a report that Peter Boy, 3 months old, had suffered a spiral fracture of his left leg, and of evidence of older fractures. The children again are taken away.

JULY 1994: Social workers return Peter Boy to his parents, and a month later allow visitations with the two older children.

JUNE 1995: The older children are returned to the Kemas by order of Family Court Judge Ben Gaddis.

OCT. 31, 1995: The state officially closes the case.

DEC. 14, 1996: Some family members last see Peter Boy at the funeral of a relative.

APRIL 4, 1997: Social workers receive a call from a therapist saying that a teenage relative of the Kemas had alleged that Peter Boy had been abused and his arm had been broken.

JULY 7, 1997: The family arrives at the department’s offices with three of the children. Peter Boy is not among them. His mother says he is on a vacation with relatives.

DEC. 26, 1997: James Acol tells a social worker of his concern, saying the last time he saw Peter Boy, the child had a black eye and a sprained arm.

JAN. 8, 1998: Police say this was when they first received a report from CPS that Peter Boy had disappeared.

JAN. 9, 1998: Police and a social worker persuade Jaylin Kema to file a missing-person report.

JAN. 21, 1998: Jaylin Kema tells police she had learned that her husband had handed their son “to a lady in 'A’ala Park.”

EARLY FEBRUARY 1998: Police ask the public for help in finding Peter Boy.

APRIL 21, 1998: Child Protective Services files a petition to remove the remaining three children from the Kema home. They are placed in foster care.

APRIL 24, 1998: Big Island police detectives take Peter Kema Sr. to 'A’ala Park to retrace his son’s last known steps.

APRIL 27, 1998: Peter Kema Sr. denies that he killed his son.

OCTOBER 1998: A confidential report filed in Family Court quotes Peter Boy’s siblings as saying that the boy was starved, forced to sleep outside and driven around in a locked car trunk.

JAN. 26, 1999: Auditor Marion Higa criticizes Department of Human Services for its handling of child abuse and neglect cases.

FEBRUARY 1999: Family Court award permanent custody of Peter Boy’s half siblings, Allan and Chauntelle, to their biological father, William Collier.

MARCH 1999: Big Island detectives turn over several thousand pages of reports on the Kema case to the prosecutor’s office.

APRIL 1999: Peter Boy’s half siblings talk of the Kemas’ treatment of their brother and themselves. They say Peter Boy bore the brunt of his parents’ wrath.

AUGUST 1999: Missing Child Center distributes “So where’s Peter?” bumper stickers.

MARCH 2000: Lawmakers pass a resolution asking the U.S. Department of Justice and state Attorney General’s Office to investigate how Big Island police have handled Peter Boy’s case. The youngest Kema child, Devalynn, is adopted by grandparents.

JUNE 2000: Big Island police reclassify the case to a homicide investigation.

APRIL 30, 2005: Lillian Koller, director of the Department of Human Services releases 23 pages of 2,000 pages being reviewed and redacted for privacy. She says more files will be released.

One of the mottos of a true T-Man is to “protect the weak,” and some of the weakest among us are children. Entirely appropriate that this sad case should become a homicide investigation. Here in NJ, our infamous DYFS (Division of Youth & Family Services) has been responsible for more than it’s share of ‘death by bureaucratic ineptitude.’

MicroSlash - “Protecting the weak…while playing a damn good electric guitar solo…”

I’m not sure I understand. This happened in 1996. I am more than sure that he is dead now unless he ran away and changed his name (which I doubt). What do people expect to come of this if the case has been buried? Don’t get me wrong, I think the parents should be put in jail if they are at fault, but my primary concern would be any other kids left in the house. Is this the way many cases are handled in Hawaii?

Tragic. I hope justice is done.

Nothing bothers me more than hearing of an abused child.

[quote]ZEB wrote:
Nothing bothers me more than hearing of an abused child. [/quote]

Where the hell were you raised? My dad whipped my ass all the time when I was young, he even beat my nabors kids, and all of my other freinds.

Yes, this is the way many cases are handled in Hawaii. It is difficult to understand how the authorities allowed the parents to continually abuse this child over and over again until, I believe, they killed him. After the spiral fracture of his leg, the parents attended a parenting program and got him back into the home a month later. Their goal was to get the family back together, but what about the best interest of the child? ???!!???!!

Where’s Peter Boy? Peter Boy’s parents had a variety of different versions of what happened to him. From him being at camp, living with a relative, etc. The authorities decided to buy the dad’s story (for their own ease of paperwork/less workload perhaps??) that he took Peter Boy to Honolulu to look for work and they lived in a tent, and because one day he was running out of food stamps and couldn’t support both of them, he gave Peter Boy to a person whom he met in the park. The authorities were unable to authenticate that this person even exists.

Later, the two older children had a different version of that day. Peter Boy was there in the morning. They were sent outside to work in the backyard while Mom, Dad and Peter Boy were in the house. Later, a car drives up, they didn’t see it, only heard it. Peter Boy and Mom were gone. Mom comes back without Peter Boy. They received an even different story from mom and dad that Peter Boy was dropped off at the store to stay with an aunt- he never was with that aunt. The authorities were told of this version of the story.

Nonetheless, the authorities let the parents slide and documented that he was given away at a park, and closed the case (ineptitude? laziness? apathy? incompetence?). All the while, the family and foster family of Peter Boy have begged, written letters, contacted higher ups, etc. etc. to deaf ears. So they are still trying to bring this investigation to life. They want Peter Boy, who would today be 14 years old, back; or closure if he’s dead. Today, the family and the newspaper, the Honolulu Advertiser, is calling to authorities to take responsibility.

Professor X, I believe that this expose also intends to pressure our authorities to do what they are supposed to do in all of these kind of cases, as their past and current performance is quite poor. Yes, my experience with this agency in my state has led me to believe that they do a pathetically poor job. And many other people here feel the same way. The parents remain free. Their other children live with other relatives now, whom report that after a couple of years, the kids were finally able to relax, because finally they could trust that they wouldn’t be forced to go back to their parents and the severe abuse.

What they need is Professor X as their agency auditor…

[quote]Professor X wrote:
I’m not sure I understand. This happened in 1996. I am more than sure that he is dead now unless he ran away and changed his name (which I doubt). What do people expect to come of this if the case has been buried? Don’t get me wrong, I think the parents should be put in jail if they are at fault, but my primary concern would be any other kids left in the house. Is this the way many cases are handled in Hawaii? [/quote]

[quote]GriffinC wrote:
ZEB wrote:
Nothing bothers me more than hearing of an abused child.

Where the hell were you raised? My dad whipped my ass all the time when I was young, he even beat my nabors kids, and all of my other freinds.[/quote]

It clearly made you an insensitive trick who can’t spell (or love his) ‘neighbor’. Too bad Grow! doesn’t contain extra morals.

I nominate this for most worthless post ever made. At least Al Shades went for geninue self-aggrandizement and not this ignorant, agressively self-effacing porpoise crap.

Back to the discussion at hand. It’s a shame.

[quote]GriffinC wrote:
ZEB wrote:
Nothing bothers me more than hearing of an abused child.

Where the hell were you raised? My dad whipped my ass all the time when I was young, he even beat my nabors kids, and all of my other freinds.[/quote]

Griffin:

Did he break your leg, or any other bones? Were you sexually molested? Were you denied proper nutrition?

Wake up!

[quote]GriffinC wrote:
Where the hell were you raised? My dad whipped my ass all the time when I was young, he even beat my nabors kids, and all of my other freinds.[/quote]

Is this some lame attempt to show how tough you are? Or how bad your dad is? There’s a difference between getting a smack on your backside for putting the crayolas to the wall and having someone break your arm for not finishing your green beans. Get aware.

Child abuse pisses me off!!

As long as the spector of Little Al has been raised, let me say that I wish his father had been around to discipline him!!!

We all know that his dad took off immediately.

JeffR