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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Retiree's neighbor charged in slaying

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

WAIMEA, Kaua'i — Just hours after delivering a Sunday church sermon on loving your neighbor, retired physician Jon Kerns was killed, possibly by his neighbor.

Raymond Ard

Police said the man charged with the slaying, Raymond Ard, 40, had been living in a cottage on Kerns' Waimea Valley property where the attack occurred Sunday night. Ard was charged yesterday with second-degree murder in Kerns' death and second-degree attempted murder for allegedly attacking Ard's 15-year-old stepson, who police described as having a mental disability.

The teenager suffered minor injuries and was released from Kaua'i Veterans Memorial Hospital.

Police Lt. Roy Asher said the motive for the slaying is a mystery, although it did not appear to be a landlord-tenant dispute. He said Kerns appeared to have been stabbed. Police recovered a knife they believe was used to kill him.

The victim's wife, Claudia Kerns, in a brief comment yesterday, said she had no information on what prompted the attack on her husband.

"I want to know," she said.

Family friend Kelly Liberatore said that during the heavy rains that occurred about three months ago, Kerns, 64, and his wife learned that Ard's family was homeless. The Kernses invited the man and his wife — who was off-island at the time of the attack — and her son to live in their cottage.

"They brought him into their lives to help this person," Liberatore said.

Friends and former colleagues of Kerns said they were shocked to hear that the quiet, religious man had suffered a violent death. Kerns was associated with several West Kaua'i churches, was a member of Gideons International, which distributes Bibles, and was an avid bicycle rider.

Sunday apparently began normally for the Kernses. In their pastor's absence, Jon Kerns delivered the sermon at the 'Ele'ele Baptist Church. The topic was "Love Thy Neighbor."

Later that night, at about 10 p.m., Kerns went or was called to the cottage where Ard's family lived. Not long afterward, he died of one or more knife wounds. Police were called about 10:10 p.m. Ard was arrested the next day.

Ard remained in custody yesterday, with bail set at $200,000. He is expected to be arraigned in Lihu'e District Court today.

Reach Jan TenBruggencate at jant@honoluluadvertiser.com or (808) 245-3074.