Kauaʻi police continue search for 22-year-old suspected of killing his father
This story was updated at 4:22 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18.
A Kaua’i County spokesperson said Saturday, Feb. 18, that the Kauaʻi Police Department is concentrating its search for murder suspect 22-year-old Kody Gardner on the remote area of Kōkeʻe, where a truck that belongs to him was found Thursday.
Kody Gardner is suspected of killing his father Kalei Gardner during an altercation Thursday morning at a home on Kuilei Street in Lāwaʻi. Kody Gardner left the home in a white 2017 GMC pickup truck with license plate number 210TWJ.
As of Saturday afternoon, however, there had been no sign or sighting of him thus far, three days after the manhunt began. It is presumed Kody Gardner ran into the mountains of Kōkeʻe State Park.
On Thursday, a parking attendant at the Waimea Canyon Overlook reported an abandoned vehicle to a state Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officer. The truck was confirmed to belong to the suspect, according to Dan Dennison, senior communications manager with the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Two state officers assisted with the search on Thursday and two also assisted Friday, Dennison said in an email.
Kody Gardner is described as being of Asian ancestry, 5 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing 120 pounds, with black hair, black eyes and a slim build.
In a Facebook Post, his sister Britney Fujioka said her brother was “mentally unstable” and anyone who saw him should call 911, adding: “KAUA’I SHARE THIS.”
Police sources told Hawai’i News Now that Gardner fatally shot his father with a speargun during an argument early Thursday.
Anyone with information on Gardner’s whereabouts is urged to call the Kauaʻi Police Department Dispatch at 808-241-1711.
The murder caused the lockdown on Thursday morning of Waimea High School. Principal Mahina Anguay wrote in a letter posted on the school’s website: “This letter is to inform you of an incident that occurred at 9:55 a.m. today when our campus was placed on lockdown due to an off-campus police situation. The lockdown was initiated out of an abundance of caution and all students and staff were kept safe during the incident. Law enforcement lifted the lockdown at 12:13 p.m. and school resumed normal operations.”
Kaua’i Police identified the homicide victim as Delwood Kalei Gardner, 52, who goes by his middle name Kalei.
“We are saddened by the tragic news of the passing of our boys’ soccer coach, Kalei Gardner, who was a dear part of our Waimea community,” Anguay wrote. “We extend our heartfelt condolences and aloha to the Gardner ‘ohana. Out of respect for the family, we ask that you allow them time to grieve.”
The letter also said: “If your child is experiencing grief and needs someone to talk to, our school counselors and School Based Behavioral Health (SBBH) staff are available for support.”
This is the second tragedy is the Gardner family within a year. In May 2022, Moses “Lono” Gardner was found dead in Kōkeʻe State Park after going missing while on a hike. After a search was called off, Lono Gardner’s body was discovered off Miloli’i Ridge Road by state Division of Forestry personnel who were conducting routine operations. No foul play was suspected, according to law enforcement at the time.