A parole board has set the minimum sentence to 18 years for the father of “Peter Boy” Kema, the 6-year-old Hawaii boy who disappeared more than two decades ago.
The Hawaii Paroling Authority announced the decision Thursday for Peter Kema Sr., who was sentenced last year to up to 20 years in prison for manslaughter in the death of his son.
Kema, who is incarcerated in Eloy, Arizona, went before the parole board late last month.
Prosecutors said the child, known as “Peter Boy,” was abused for years and died from septic shock after a sore went untreated. Kema led authorities to a remote coastal area of the Big Island last April, but his body was never found.
Kema also received a four-year concurrent sentence for hindering prosecution. He was sent to a privately run prison in Arizona contracted by the Hawaii Department of Corrections to hold inmates because of overcrowding.
Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that he’s pleased with the board’s decision.
“It’s a tragedy that we ended up losing a child, so there’s no celebration or anything like that,” Roth said. “We still have problems in the system that need to be fixed.”
The child was taken out of school when he was in first grade, which should have raised concerns, Roth said.
Legislation that aimed to better protect children whose parents are on the radar of child protective services failed to advance in the state Legislature this year after pushback from homeschooling advocates. The legislation would have created a system to alert authorities if a child is withdrawn from school.
“We’re looking forward to working with the homeschooling community to fix that loophole,” Roth said. “I’ve got to believe that everybody wants to protect the kids.”
Jaylin Kema, the boy’s mother, was released from jail last April after serving a year for manslaughter.
Peter Kema will be eligible for parole in 2034, according to state Department of Public Safety.