HILO — Jaylin Kema, the mother of fatal child abuse victim Peter Kema Jr., aka “Peter Boy,” died Wednesday night, sources told Big Island newspapers.
Multiple sources told the newspapers the cause of death was kidney failure, possibly because of diabetes. The 48-year-old Kema had previously lost part of a leg due to complications caused by diabetes.
Kema was convicted of manslaughter in perhaps the most notorious case of child disappearance turned homicide in Hawaii history — the 1997 death of her 6-year-old son.
Kema and her husband, Peter Kema Sr., were the only suspects in the child’s disappearance, but no charges were brought against them until 2016, when both were indicted for murder by a Hilo grand jury.
Jaylin Kema agreed to testify against her husband, and was sentenced to a year in jail, time she had already served, and 10 years probation.
Tearfully, Kema told since-retired Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara, “I failed to protect my son,” when she pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
According to prosecutors, Peter Boy, who suffered severe abuse, likely died of septic shock due to an infected and festering wound in his arm and because his parents failed to seek medical attention for the badly injured boy.
According to Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville, Peter Boy’s siblings said Jaylin Kema cleaned the wound with hydrogen peroxide and iodine, and gave the boy medicine in his milk.
Later, Peter Kema Sr. also pleaded guilty to manslaughter, avoiding the possibility of life imprisonment if a jury had found him guilty on a second-degree murder charge.
Jaylin Kema has made numerous court appearances since on probation violations, including for marijuana use.
She was to have gone to court Jan. 29 on a motion by prosecutors to revoke her probation.
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