On Thursday Kauai search and rescue teams found a body that’s believed to the 22-year-old suspect in the killing of his father, a brutal crime that set the island on high alert over the course of a week-long manhunt.

Kody Kalei Gardner, 22, is a suspect in the death of his father on Kauai on Thursday. (Courtesy: Kauai Police Department/2023).

Foul play is not suspected in suspect Kody Kalei Gardner’s apparent death, as preliminary findings suggest he fell from a great height in Kokee State Park.

Police said the suspect’s father Delwood Kalei Gardner, 52, of Kahili Mountain died from “multiple penetrating sharp force” neck injuries in an early morning domestic dispute on Feb. 16. The incident took place on Kuilei Street in Lawai, a rural enclave about 12 miles west of Lihue with a population of roughly 2,500 people.

The suspect fled the scene in a stolen truck, which police located at the Waimea Canyon Lookout, according to police. Police shut down the canyon lookout area to search for Gardner and advised the public not to approach him because he could be dangerous. 

Police announced on Friday that a body that appears to be Gardner was located in Kokee State Park after an eight-day, multi-agency manhunt by police, firefighters, search and rescue teams, state park officers, friends and family of the victim, volunteers, a helicopter, rescue canines and drones.

But the body could not be recovered. Persistent wind, rain and cloudy conditions, coupled with the remote geography of the wilderness area, have prevented authorities from confirming the identity.

Family members say Gardner suffered from mental illness, according to Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce of the Kauai Police Department Investigative Services Bureau.

Ponce said there’s no known motive for the killing.

The case remains under investigation.

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