Body believed to be 22-year-old suspected of killing father recovered from Kauaʻi canyon
A deceased body believed to be that of 22-year-old Kody Gardner, who was suspected of killing his father, was recovered Tuesday afternoon in Kōkeʻe, according to the Kauaʻi Police Department.
The Kauaʻi Search and Rescue rappel-ropes team helped police retrieve the body that was about 500 feet below the Waimea Canyon Lookout.
The body was first observed on Thursday, but due to bad weather and the remote location it was not recovered for five more days, police said.
The corpse was down a steep cliff that was only accessible with proper safety equipment and expert rappelling and rescue/recovery personnel.
Kaua’i Police Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce said the highly skilled volunteer expert rappel and recovery specialists of the Kauaʻi Search and Rescue team “risked their lives yesterday to help bring proper closure to the family and friends of the late Delwood Kalei Gardnerand Kody Gardner.”
It was Feb. 16 that the ordeal began, when 52-year-old Kalei Gardner was killed on Kuilei Street in Lāwa‘i. The suspected murderer, Kody Gardner, took off in a stolen truck that was found abandoned hours later in the parking lot of Waimea Canyon Lookout.
It led to an 8-day multiagency search, police said in a news release. During the manhunt, there was little public information provided.
Partners involved in the week-long search included members of the Kaua’i Police Department, personnel with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Kaua‘i Fire Department, Kaua’i Search and Rescue, friends and family of the decedent, 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.
An autopsy conducted on Feb. 23 confirmed that the victim’s death occurred as a result of a homicide caused by multiple penetrating sharp force injuries to the neck. A news outlet reported that it was by a speargun.
“We do not know of or have a specific motive why Kody Gardner would want to harm his father, Delwood Kalei Gardner,” Ponce said. “However, according to family members, Kody Gardner suffered from mental illness”.
The case remains under police investigation. Foul play is not suspected in the death of Kody Gardner because preliminary findings suggest a fall from height.