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Kaua‘i police retrieve homicide suspect’s body from canyon

KOKE‘E — County of Kaua‘i agencies and volunteers recovered what they believe to be the body of Kody Gardner from a steep cliffside in Koke‘e on Tuesday afternoon.

The 22-year-old Lawa‘i man was suspected in the murder of his father, 52-year-old Delwood Kalei Gardner of Kahili Mountain.

The body was recovered approximately 500 feet below the Waimea Canyon lookout — also known as the first lookout — with the assistance of the Kaua‘i Search and Rescue rappel-ropes team.

“Kaua‘i Search and Rescue’s (KSAR) team, comprised of highly skilled volunteer expert rappel and recovery specialists, risked their lives yesterday to help bring proper closure to the family and friends of the late Delwood Kalei Gardner and Kody Gardner,” said Kaua‘i Police Department Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce.

“We are very thankful and humbled by KSAR’s unwavering commitment in assisting KPD with search and rescue missions, missing persons investigations, and coroners case body recovery operations.”

Delwood Kalei Gardner was killed on the morning of Feb. 16 at a residence on Kuilei Street in Lawa‘i. The cause of death was described by police as “multiple penetrating sharp force injuries to the neck.”

Kody Gardner is presumed to have fled the scene after his father’s death, to the mountainous area of Koke‘e State Park overlooking the Waimea Canyon. A stolen truck he was driving was found near the first lookout.

Police say Kody Gardner suffered from a mental illness, which had become particularly severe in recent years.

After an eight-day search, what officials believe to be Kody Gardner’s body was discovered on Feb. 23. He appeared to have died as a result of a “fall from a great height.” Police do not expect foul play was involved in the younger Gardner’s death.

The Feb. 16 homicide led to a temporary shutdown of Waimea High School, where Delwood Kalei Gardner was the soccer coach.

A letter sent to Waimea High School parents from Principal Mahina Anguay described Delwood Kalei Gardner as “a dear part of our Waimea community.”

The letter continued, “We extend our heartfelt condolences and aloha to the Gardner ‘ohana.”

The case remains under police investigation.

The homicide was the first on island since February 2020. Police are now investigating an unrelated suspected homicide that occurred on Feb. 24, in which a Kapa‘a man was found unconscious with multiple injuries, which he later succumbed to.


Guthrie Scrimgeour, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-0329 or
Source: The Garden Island

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