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‘Peter Boy’ Book Series Reveals ‘Inside Story’

April 17, 2017, 2:00 PM HST
* Updated April 17, 3:01 PM
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Cover image from Amazon.com.

Shocking details of Hawai‘i’s most notorious child abuse and murder case—the heartbreaking saga of six-year-old Peter J. Kema Jr.—are revealed in Peter Boy, stated a press release about the first installment of this four-book series.

Authoring the whistleblower series is Lillian B. Koller, J.D., who served as Hawai‘i Human Services Director from 2003 to 2010. Her books interpret events of the Peter Boy case based on official state records, 2,000 pages of which Koller publicly released beginning in 2005.

Peter Boy is a “must read” for anyone who cares about children and yearns to understand how this tragedy could have happened, the press release says.  And it shines a glaring light on how Hawai‘i’s “system” to protect children from parental abuse and neglect failed this vulnerable youngster again and again.

Prior to Peter Boy’s disappearance in 1997, his mother and father had a long history with Child Protective Services, an agency of the Hawai‘i Department of Human Services. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Peter Boy became the face of a campaign to help missing and abused children. Posters and bumper stickers asked a simple question: “Where’s Peter Boy?”

The sad truth is that Peter Boy was never “missing.” He died in 1997. Throughout that year, his parents Peter J. Kema Sr. and Jaylin M.A. Kema told relatives and public officials different stories about their young son’s whereabouts. In early 1998, the parents settled on a tale. The father “gave away” Peter Boy to an “Aunty Rose Makuakane” at a Honolulu park. Her existence was never confirmed.

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In April 2016, 19 years after the disappearance, Hawai‘i Island authorities finally indicted both parents on murder charges. The mother pled guilty to manslaughter on December 1, 2016, and agreed to testify against her husband.

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On April 5, the father pled guilty to manslaughter and hindering prosecution. He awaits sentencing on June 9 in Hilo after admitting to multiple assaults on his son and failing to obtain medical services. He also promises to lead authorities to Peter Boy’s corpse.

Koller hopes that Peter Boy, which is being released during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, will spare other children, nationwide, from needless suffering—and could even save some lives.

This riveting book series tells all that needs to be said and fully appreciated about the Peter Boy tragedy, including a string of human errors and systematic flaws at DHS and elsewhere in Hawai‘i’s child protection “system” from 1991 to 1999. As readers will learn, the consequences of this government failure were devastating, both in terms of harm unforgivably preventable and of justice unjustifiably delayed.

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Information on the book series is available at www.peterboykema.com.

The book can be purchased online.

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