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Kaua‘i cops quiet about search for murder suspect in Kōkeʻe

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Kody Kalei Gardner. Photo Courtesy: Kaua‘i Police Department

Nearly one week has passed since murder suspect Kody Gardner fled into the wilds of Kōkeʻe – but the Kaua‘i Police Department has kept mum regarding the status of the manhunt.

“Several KPD police officers were on scene in the Kōkeʻe area today, but on a much scaled-down effort from what was planned due to inclement weather,” County of Kaua‘i spokesperson Sarah Blane said Tuesday. “A larger, multi-agency effort is planned for tomorrow, weather permitting.”

Kaua‘i has been struck by torrential rains in recent days, as a Kona Low storm system sweeps across the state.

Kody Gardner is suspected of killing his father, 52-year-old Delwood Kalei Gardner, on Feb. 16 during a domestic altercation in the South Shore town of Lāwa‘i. According to the Kaua‘i Police Department, Kody Gardner then fled in a white pickup truck discovered hours later at the Waimea Canyon Lookout on the island’s West Side.


The Kaua‘i Police Department did not respond to some emails and phone calls made by Kaua‘i Now over the course of the past week, and has only provided scant information about the search for Gardner.

Blane on Tuesday said communication with investigating officers has been limited due to the lack of cell reception in Kōkeʻe.

The Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources – which operates Kōkeʻe State Park – confirmed two Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers assisted police last week in their search for Gardner. But the statewide agency refused to comment further.

“This is a KPD case,” Department of Land and Natural Resources spokesperson Madison Rice said.


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. His sister Britney Fujioka described him as “mentally unstable” in a Facebook post made following the death of their father.

Kaua‘i residents have expressed confusion and frustration regarding the lack of official information on social media.

“[I]t’s been a 3 day search & no updates. ???” local Facebook page “What’s Happening on Kaua‘i” posted Monday.

“Kauai is only about 550-560 sq miles and still we cant cover that ground,” a Facebook user commented in response. “there teams out there looking for him or are they relying on the community to drop tips? They made it seem like such a dangerous event but give no updates as to their strategy or if any progress has been made.”


Blane said the county will issue another update on the search for Gardner sometime Wednesday.

Scott Yunker
Scott Yunker is a journalist living on Kauaʻi. His work for community newspapers has earned him awards and inclusion in the 2020 anthology "Corona City: Voices from an Epicenter."
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