By Lee Cataluna
There are 60 cases open at the Missing Child Center-Hawaii, but this one is different. Says director Anne Clarkin, "Every other child thats missing, the parents are calling me day and night. No one calls about this child."
Peter Boy Kema was born in May 1991. He was a week old when his two siblings were taken from the home after a report of abuse. When he was three months old, social workers received a report that Peter Boys leg was broken, and there was evidence of older fractures. The children were removed from the home.
And they were brought back.
Until Peter Boy disappeared and the case became public, every time social workers took the children out of Jaylin and Peter Kema Sr.s house, they were brought back. Today, none of Peter Boys three siblings lives with his parents.
Relatives last saw Peter Boy at a family function in December 1996. His mother said she last saw him in August 1997. Police first got a report from CPS that he was missing in January 1998. The public was asked for help locating the little boy, and pictures of him -those brown eyes that knew too much pain for such a small face were all over the paper and 6 oclock news.
Then came the story that his father had taken Peter Boy to Honolulu and given him to a distant relative, Auntie Rose Makuakane, in Aala Park. Investigators couldnt find evidence she ever existed.
Now, years later, theres little evidence that a sad, broken child named Peter Boy ever existed. His mother, who sobbed in front of the cameras while her husband sat stone-faced beside her, isnt talking, and those close to the case wonder what she knows.
Last June, The Advertiser reported that Big Island police had classified the case as a murder investigation. There was hope that prosecutors would take the case to a grand jury before the end of the year.
Deputy prosecutor Lincoln Ashida, who was heading the case, has left the prosecutors office to become Corporation Counsel for new mayor Harry Kim. Another attorney will be assigned, and the prosecutors office has asked for police follow-ups in the investigation.
No one wants the prosecutors office to act before its ready, but to see so much time pass without anyone being held accountable for what happened to the child is agonizing.
Public attention lit fires under CPS and the police when the case first came to light. But all that has faded, like the bumper stickers that ask, "So wheres Peter?"
Surely, someone knows the truth, perhaps someone who loved him or held his hand when he was frightened. That secret must feel like a breath held just a moment too long. Like betrayal.
Lee Catalunas column runs on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
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