8-day manhunt for Kaua‘i murder suspect ends with discovery of dead body in Kōkeʻe
It appears that an eight-day manhunt for a murder suspect has ended with the discovery of his body.
The Kaua‘i Police Department reports that a dead body thought to be that of 22-year-old Kody Gardner, the suspect of an alleged Feb. 16 murder in Lāwa‘i, was observed by officials Thursday, Feb. 23, in Kōkeʻe. Foul play is not suspected, as preliminary findings suggest Gardner fell from height.
“Due to the ongoing windy, rainy and cloudy weather conditions and remote location, we have not yet been able to recover the body,” said Kaua‘i Police Department Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce in a press release. “The safety of our Air-1 pilot, firefighters/rescue personnel, police officers and partnering agencies involved in the recovery attempts is priority, and we will continue our efforts in the near future during favorable weather conditions”.
In the early morning of Feb. 16, a domestic incident on Kuilei Street in the South Shore town of Lāwa‘i resulted in a fatal injury to Gardner’s father, 52-year-old Delwood Kalei Gardner. Kody Gardner is thought to have fled the scene in a stolen a white 2017 GMC pickup truck, which was later located at Waimea Canyon Lookout.
An autopsy conducted Thursday confirmed that Delwood Gardner’s death was the result of murder caused by multiple penetrating sharp-force injuries to the neck.
“We do not know of or have a specific motive why Kody Gardner would want to harm his father, Delwood Kalei Gardner,” Ponce said in the press release. “However, according to family members, Kody Gardner suffered from mental illness”.
His sister Britney Fujioka described him as “mentally unstable” in a Facebook post made following the death of their father.
Partners that assisted the Kaua‘i Police Department in the eight-day search for Kody Gardner included members of the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, Kaua‘i Fire Department, Kaua‘i Search and Rescue, friends and family of the Gardners and other volunteers. Because of the remote location and nature of the search, resources also included the use of Air-1, drones and search-and-rescue canines.
The case remains under investigation.
“Our hearts go out to the family, loved ones and all affected by this tragedy,” Ponce said in the press release.